How Did Rudolph Giuliani Make New York a Safer Place?

Rudy Giuliani (on the right) with Nancy Reagan and Vito Fossella
Rudy Giuliani (on the right) with Nancy Reagan and Vito Fossella

Before Rudolph Giuliani came to power in 1994, New York City was a crime center and was considered one of the least safe places to live in the Western World.Giuliani, together with his Police Commissioner,William Bratton, decided to change the situation drastically and wipe out most of the criminal activity in NYC. How did they accomplish the task?

Starting with Intelligence gathering

The NYPD exerted much effort in gathering intelligence that helped them define areas that demanded more intense law enforcement activity. In that way, they knew how and where to concentrate their effort and thus were able to allocate limited resources in a much more efficient manner.

After they had the bigger picture in mind, they divided the city into areas that were put under the responsibility of local commanders. Each commander focused solely on his area.

The “broken window” approach

The overall strategy the police used was dubbed “broken window” and it meant zero tolerance to small crimes with the belief that minor offenses, if not stopped, would eventually lead to major crimes. The number of arrests for misdemeanor offenses (that did lead to an arrest before) increased dramatically by more than 70% (The number of offenders that were incarcerated for more severe felony arrests grew by 50%). All those arrests ended up in a rise of 25% in jail and prison sentences.

At the same time,Giuliani increased the number of police officers by more than a third and that meant more intensified law enforcement on the streets.

Economy was on their side

The improvement of the overall economic conditions in New York and the United States had its beneficial effect. In the seven years between 1992 and 1997, unemployment rate shrank by 39% in New York. Minimum wage also rose by 10%. Statistics clearly showed a consequent reduction in the number of burglaries and car thefts.

The result

Giuliani and Bratton’s policy turned out to be more successful compared to even what the strongest optimists had hoped for. In the course of the 1990’s, the number of crimes involving violence went lower by 56% in New York (in the entire United States, there was a drop of 28%). Murder rate shrank by 70%, burglary by more than 65% and robbery by 67%.

For the first time in decades, people could walk on the city’s street at night without becoming victims of a crime.

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