While Mayor Dinkins and Commissioner Brown emphasized on number of police officers, Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bratton emphasized on petty offenses.
When Mayor Giuliani was elected into office in 1994, he appointed Bratton as the head of the New York Police Department. Very similar to their predecessors, they both claimed personal credit for the further reduction in crime rates during their term of office. What makes them different from their predecessors is that they claimed to have a holistic approach to policing. For them size of the police force which was emphasized by their predecessors was not the proper solution to crime.
For them, reducing crime rate requires a multi-faceted approach. The first approach is the adoption of an aggressive strategy against crime, especially minor offenses. They focused on minor offenders such as fare evaders, panhandles, and graffiti artists. In support of the policy against minor offenders, Bratton argued that people start their career as violent criminals by committing minor crimes. Bratton cites a study that one in seven fare evaders have an outstanding warrant for another crime and one in twenty five carried a firearm. In view of this policy, the total arrests in New York increased from 261, 329 to 345,041 from 1993 to 1996. 86% of the increase can be attributed to the increase in misdemeanor arrests which rose from 133,446 to 205,277.
The second strategy is Bratton’s use of innovative police management strategy. According to Bratton, an important ingredient in crime fighting is the introduction of corporation-style management technique where precinct commanders were given autonomy in deciding how to reduce crime and in implementing their policy. Moreover, Bratton implemented a strategy of deployment by deploying officers to locations which are classified as “hot spots.” These “hot spots” were identified through an analysis of computerized statistics and pin maps.
A number of strategies have been identified as potential reasons for the decline in crime rate during the 1990s. The factors that were used during the term of Mayor Dinkins were improvement in the size of police force, adoption of the strategy of community policing, and improvement in police visibility. During the term of Mayor Giuliani, the strategies utilized were adoption of quality of life initiatives, accountability of police commanders for reducing crimes, and use of computerized statistics and maps.
While it is true that the two administrations had constantly fought on the issue of which of their strategies were more effective in reducing crime rates, it is apparent that the strategies adopted by the two administrations had one thing in common. They both focused on factors which are internal to them. For them, crime is a direct result of how capable and effective the politicians and police officers are in controlling crime. Thus, for the politicians and the police commissioners they should be credited for the decrease in crime rates during the 1990s.
It is apparent that these politicians and police commissioners did not take into consideration other factors such as the economy, family, and community. They failed to take into account the possibility that the economy may have improved during their time. They also failed to take into account the age factor and that the criminal offenders may have gotten older and less violent. They also did not consider the possibility that the increasing awareness of the people helped in reducing the crime rate in New York.
While the efforts made by police officers and the mayor were laudable and praiseworthy, it would be the height of absurdity to claim that they were responsible for the reduction in crime rate. Crime is a complex phenomenon which involves the interplay of a number of factors within the individual and outside the individual. Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to committing crime while some may have committed crime because of social influences. Crime can be premeditated but it can also be committed at the spur of the moment where the offender is deprived of rational thought and reflection. Thus, crime can be explained using different theories and perspectives but crime cannot be attributed to a single factor.