As crime plummeted in the 1990s, New York rebranded itself as the safest big city in America, luring back tourists and businesses that fled in the 1970s and 1980s, when the city was associated with graffiti-splashed subway cars, littered streets and a crack cocaine epidemic.
Now it is looking at statistics that show murder and rape up more than 15 percent so far this year over the same period of 2009, which could be a statistical regression to the mean or a slippage in crime-fighting tactics.
"We are sliding back in the wrong direction," said City Councilman Peter Vallone, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee.
Vallone attributes part of the increase to the faltering economy -- a theory police and some academics dismiss.
There were 450 murders from January 1 to October 31, up from 390 in the same period of 2009 and close to the total of 471 recorded in all of last year.
Much of the gun violence occurs far from tourist-populated Times Square or Wall Street -- around the city's public housing projects where the poor are crowded into high-density apartment blocks and teenagers get trapped into gangs.
Vallone says the causes are simple. The police force has been reduced due to budget cuts, the economy is weaker, and state lawmakers last year relaxed famously strict laws that required mandatory prison terms for low-level drug felons.
"You have a perfect storm of criminal indicators," Vallone said. "We need to lose the attitude that we've won the war on crime. ... The pendulum has swung again to the liberal side where we're all about treatment and coddling criminals."
Andrew Karmen, a professor at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said no single factor explains a drop or increase in crime and that most explanations were "ideological or self-serving."
Agreed. It's not just the fact that there are more people living on top of each other, fewer cops, a shitty economy and more lenient sentencing.
It's also the fact that we are allowing people into this country and encouraging them to settle in this City when we have no idea who the hell they are, what they are up to or if they have a criminal record. And then there is the ad nauseum whining when they are discovered and deported.
Oh, and cameras in public places? Forget it! That's an invasion of privacy! What?