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Editor’s note: The following column was first published in City Journal.
Less than a week ago, New Yorkers closed the book on a year that saw 485 murders—a slight rise over 2020, which saw a massive increase over 2019. Along with marking the end of Bill de Blasio’s tenure as mayor, 2021 also became the fourth consecutive year in which Big Apple homicides increased. Four straight years of homicide increases: that has never happened in my lifetime.
Depressing as the crime data have been as of late, many Gothamites rang in the New Year with optimism about new mayor Eric Adams, a former cop who ran on an explicitly anti-crime platform. But New Yorkers are quickly learning that last year’s election outcomes weren’t universally anti-crime.
On January 3, newly minted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg distributed a memo setting out a number of radical changes to the office’s approach to law enforcement.
For starters, he was doing away with the whole “enforcement” thing for a host of offenses: fare evasion, trespass, traffic infractions, resisting arrest, prostitution . . . the list goes on. With some exceptions, these