Bicycle infractions used to be the number one public safety concern for Lenox Hill residents, but with an increase in gunpoint robberies and armed robberies from last year, violent crime is now number one.
The East 72nd Neighborhood Association conducted a virtual neighborhood meeting on Wednesday evening with several elected officials to find out the factors that could possibly explain the increase.
Valerie Mason of the association displayed a presentation that showed how residents answered a recent survey about their public safety concerns.
Of the top three public safety concerns, 19.7 percent of respondents indicated that violent crime is number one, followed by homelessness (17.9 percent) and then bicycle infractions (8.8 percent).
Mason pointed out recent statistics from the 19th Precinct: over a 28-day period there have been 27 robberies versus seven last year, and 14 armed robberies versus one last year for a “whopping thirteen hundred percent increase.”
She then directed a question to the two City Council members who represent different parts of the district, asking them if they think that the recent $1 billion cut in NYPD spending and bail reform enacted in January is part of the reason why violent crime is going up and is emboldening criminals to act more aggressively.
Councilman Keith Powers believes that there are number of factors behind the uptick that are pandemic related, but he singled out lax gun laws in neighboring states to the south that are responsible for the easy distribution of guns north.
“It’s extremely clear to all of us that we need a larger solution around gun violence, particularly illegal guns that are making their way into New York City, which continues to be the biggest problem we have,” began Powers.
“The state elected officials have done almost everything they need to do to tackle our gun laws here in the city, but they’re still coming in. We need a solution that is much larger than just New York state, it has to be national.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Ben Kallos, who voted against the budget because the $1 billion NYPD spending cut doesn’t amount to defunding the police, doesn’t believe that there is correlation between the cut and an increase in crime because there are more active police officers today than previous mayoral administrations.
“In 2020, we have more police officers than [Michael] Bloomberg had and more police officers than [Rudy] Giuliani had. And we still remain one of the biggest police forces in the country, spending over six billion dollars a year,” said Kallos.