Today a TPM Reader who left New York City during the pandemic wrote in to ask if the crime situation in the city is really as out of control as he hears. He told me he’s going on what he hears from people who still live in the city, media reports, etc. I told him that the city definitely feels grittier, dirtier and in some ways less safe than it did before the pandemic. I frequently hear people tell me they’re more leery of going on the subways late at night. So I told this reader that even among people who know the city well and have no political motive to play up crime or perceptions of social disorder many people do feel this way. But what I told this reader is that I hadn’t actually looked at the statistics recently, something I’ve done fairly regularly through much of my career since it’s a major interest of mine. So I did. The actual data is quite interesting, certainly more complex than the back-to-the-’80s narrative but also one that shows that many forms of crime have gone up quite a bit.
(Admittedly, this is a New York-centric post. But I write about it here as a proxy for the broader national mood about crime and the backdrop it is playing for the midterm election.)