Posted on 20 April 2011.
By: Ethan Frogget, Umar Muhammad, and Semhar Woldeysus
When “American Idol” featured a dismal portrait of the Bronx in a segment about one of its contestants earlier this year, the borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. wasn’t exactly thrilled.
The Bronx where contestant Travis Orlando grew up was portrayed as a borough full of crime. “They disrespected us in the Bronx,” Diaz said. “They erased two and a half decades of hard work by elected officials, by community leaders, and community organizations. We are so tired of being depicted in a negative light.”
The recent fatal shooting of two young men at West Fordham Road and University Avenue prompted the Bronx Ink team to take a closer look at the available crime data to see who’s right, the Bronx BP or AI. The team looked at CompStat gathered by the New York City Police Department.
The results were startling.
Diaz was dead-on when he said that the Bronx had improved in the past two decades. The fact is the crime rate in the Bronx has decreased by 75 percent since 1990. But in three precincts (43, 44, and 52) where crime has also dropped, the share of overall violent crimes remains the same.
These precincts fall within the neighborhoods of Soundview, Norwood, and Morris Heights. Last week’s shooting of two young men (a suspect, Yenfri Ramirez, 16, has been charged with murder and attempted murder) happened in the 52nd precinct.
In 1990, 27 percent of murders and 34 percent of rapes reported in the Bronx occurred in these neighborhoods. Even after two decades the proportion of overall remain at 31 and 33 percent, respectively.
What does that mean?
Of the 643 murders reported in the Bronx in 1990, 177 took place within the above-mentioned neighborhoods. Of the 644 rapes reported that same year, 225 were within the same three neighborhoods.
Today, the percentage of the borough’s overall crime remains the same in these neighborhoods. Of the 127 murders reported in 2010, 39 were within the 43rd, 44th, and 52nd precinct. And of the 293 rapes reported, 96 took place within these neighborhoods.
According to a crime report from neighborhoodscout.com, you are twice as likely to be a victim of crime in the Bronx than anywhere else in the country. The crime rate indexes, gathered by various groups on spotcrime.com and clrsearch.com confirm the statistics.
Some say the picture if actually worse. Crime statistics in New York City have come under fire by some who say they do not present an accurate portrait. The department has been accused of downgrading offenses to make crime rates appear lower. In January, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced that a committee of lawyers and former federal prosecutors would review the crime reporting system. However, the department claimed that in in more than 500,000 crime reports reviewed annually, its Quality Assurance Division identified an annual misclassification rate of approximately 1.5%.
“By empanelling experienced, independent, objective experts to review our crime reporting system and the quality control mechanisms we have in place,” Kelly said in a statement to accompany the announcement. “I hope to establish the overall reliability of our statistics and identify any areas in need of improvement.”