The Tipping Point - from The New Yorker June 3, 1996 DEPT....

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from The New Yorker June 3, 1996 DEPT. OF DISPUTATION The Tipping Point Why is the city suddenly so much safer--- could it be that crime really is an epidemic? by Malcolm Gladwell 1. As you drive east on Atlantic Avenue, through the part of New York City that the Police Department refers to as Brooklyn North, the neighborhoods slowly start to empty out: the genteel brownstones of the western part of Brooklyn give way to sprawling housing projects and vacant lots. Bedford- Stuyvesant is followed by Bushwick, then by Brownsville, and, finally, by East New York, home of the Seventy-fifth Precinct, a 5.6- square-mile tract where some of the poorest people in the city live. East New York is not a place of office buildings or parks and banks, just graffiti- covered bodegas and hair salons and auto shops. It is an economically desperate community destined, by most accounts, to get more desperate in the years ahead-which makes what has happened there over the past two and a half years all the more miraculous. In 1993, there were a hundred and twenty-six homicides in the Seven-Five, as the police call it. Last year, there were forty-four. There is probably no other place in the country where violent crime has declined so far, so fast. Once the symbol of urban violence, New York City is in the midst of a strange and unprecedented transformation. According to the preliminary crime statistics released by the F.B.I. earlier this month, New York has a citywide violent-crime rate that now ranks it a hundred and thirty-sixth among major American cities, on a par with Boise, Idaho. Car thefts have fallen to seventy-one thousand, down from a hundred and fifty thousand as recently as six years ago. Burglaries have fallen from more than two hundred thousand in the early nineteen-eighties to just under seventy-five thousand in 1995. Homicides are now at the level of the early seventies, nearly half of what they were in 1990. Over the past two and a half years, every precinct in the city has recorded double-digit decreases in violent crime. Nowhere, however, have the decreases been sharper than Brooklyn North, in neighborhoods that not long ago were all but written off to drugs and violence. On the streets of the Seven-Five today, it is possible to see signs of everyday life that would have been unthinkable in the early nineties. There are now ordinary people on the streets at dusk-small children riding their bicycles, old people on benches and stoops, people coming out of the subways alone. "There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to hear rapid fire, like you would hear somewhere in the jungle in Vietnam," Inspector Edward A. Mezzadri, who commands the Seventy-fifth Precinct, told me. "You would hear that in Bed-Stuy and Brownsville and,
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particularly, East New York all the time. I don't hear the gunfire anymore. I've been at this job one year and twelve days. The other night when I was going to the garage to get my car, I heard my first volley. That was my first time."
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The Tipping Point - from The New Yorker June 3, 1996 DEPT....

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