1990s Drop in NYC Crime Not Due to CompStat, Misdemeanor Arrests, Study Finds
1990s drop in NYC crime not due to CompStat, misdemeanor arrests, study finds
New York City experienced a historic decline in crime rates during the 1990s, but it was not due to the implementation of CompStat or enhanced enforcement of misdemeanor offenses, according to an analysis by New York University sociologist David Greenberg. The study, which appears in the journal Justice Quarterly, did not find a link between arrests on misdemeanor charges and drops in felonies, such as homicides, robberies, and assaults. In addition, the analysis revealed no significant drop in violent or property crime attributable to the NYPD’s introduction of CompStat in 1994.
“While the 1990s drop in felonies is undeniable, what remains unsolved is the cause, or causes, behind this significant change in New York City’s crime rates,” Greenberg said.
While misdemeanor arrests rose 37 percent across New York City between 1988 and 2001, there was no association between these arrests and felony crime rates at the precinct level. In fact, with the exception of felony arrests contributing modestly to the drop in robberies, the analysis revealed no significant contribution made by law enforcement to the drop in more serious crimes. For example, both the overall size of the police force and city-wide imprisonment rates decreased during this time. Moreover, at the precinct level, rates of arrest and imprisonment varied greatly across New York—and throughout the studied period—while felonies dropped consistently across the city.
“While many may point to greater enforcement of lower-level offenses as a factor in curbing more serious crimes, the data simply don’t support this conclusion,” Greenberg observed.