Crime Up in Manhattan’s Precinct

by JOE LIGGIO, Asst. News Editor

While New York City officials have touted record low crimes within the five boroughs for 2018, the numbers aren’t as cut and dry as they seem.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and other high-ranking city officials have taken the past few weeks to laud the fact that end of year New York City Police Department crime stats suggest a safer, improving city. They have drawn special attention to the fact that the total number of murders stayed under 300 for the second year in a row, and that the number of shootings had declined by four percent, from 789 in 2017 to 754 in 2018.

“I want to put this in perspective,” said de Blasio in a Jan. 3 press conference. “We had, in 2017, a record-setting year. We had crime down in ways that no one believed possible previously. And in 2018, the NYPD beat the record again.”

While these numbers suggest a positive direction for the city, a deeper look at the recent CompStat statistics, published by the NYPD, reveals that numerous violent crimes have actually increased in some areas of the city, including the Northwest region of the Bronx which Manhattan College calls home.

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A graph depicting the amount of crime that occurs within the 50th precinct compared to city-wide crime. JOE LIGGIO & SAMANTHA WALLA/ THE QUADRANGLE

While other boroughs saw a decline in homicides, the Bronx exhibited a noticeable increase, up from 72 in 2017 to 91 in 2018. This included several within the confines of the NYPD’s 50th Precinct, which covers Riverdale, Fieldston, Kingsbridge, Marble Hill and Spuyten Duyvil.

The number of homicides in the 50th Precinct more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, from three to seven respectively. Rape rose from eight to 15 in the same period while robbery, felony assault and vehicle theft also saw small increases since 2017.

The majority of these incidents have occurred to the south of MC’s campus but have occasionally hit close to home. A shooting near the intersection of West 232nd Street and Broadway last August resulted in a death and a crime scene established further up the road at West 237th Street, near the college’s South Campus.

Some at Manhattan were unfamiliar with the crime trends in the nearby neighborhoods.

“I didn’t know that seven people were murdered in our precinct last year,” said Caitlin Hartnett, a junior and mechanical engineering major at Manhattan.

The 50th Precinct has been under new management as of late November, when Captain Emilio Melendez replaced Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole as the commanding officer of the group. Melendez had previously served in the U.S. Air Force and as an officer at three other higher-crime precincts in the Bronx.

In spite of the stats, some don’t feel that the increases are much to worry over.

“I don’t think it’s up dramatically enough to be concerned,” said Megan Carmody, a junior whose secondary education major requires her to visit different schools in the area. “I walk early in the morning to all my field hours and I feel fine … 10 to 30 minute walking distance … I’ve never felt in danger.”

Despite the increases in some crimes, burglary and grand larceny rates have gone down in the area since 2017, yet the start of 2019 has already seen some crimes committed in the nearby community and close to Manhattan College.

This past Tuesday, Jan. 15, an apartment located in the Majestic building at 3660 Waldo Ave was burglarized. According to the NYPD, the male suspect, who has not yet been apprehended, entered through a fire escape and made off with approximately $7000 in property.