About Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island - Maybe the Safest Neighborhood in the Safest Big City

Updated 3 years ago David Stone
Good Shepherd Plaza at the Center of Town
Good Shepherd Plaza at the Center of Town
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

If you still watch TV news, read most newspapers or listen to Donald Trump and his band of supporters, you'd think we were wallowing in crime, and "law and order," the rallying cry started by Nixon, was the only answer. But our daily lives on Roosevelt Island tell a different story.

The Straight Stuff

We can save the truth about how much better life is, not just on Roosevelt Island, but across the globe for another article.

Let's stay local.

At new Police Commissioner James O'Neill's first press conference, he inherited some good news. That is, crime in the city plummeted more than 12% in September compared to September, 2015. 

Well, he didn't really just inherit it. As Deputy Commissioner, O'Neill was involved in the department's community policing, a progressive idea that assumes that involving officers more personally and consistently in their communities reduces crime.

"People like having a direct and personal relationship with a police officer who knows their immediate part of the neighborhood," is how Mayor Bill de Blasio sums it up.

He added that better community relations results in better intelligence before and after crimes.

The Mayor then took on the "misinformation" tossed around in a Trump word salad during the last week's Presidential Debate, specifically claims that "stop and frisk" tactics, championed by Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor, were effective and that crime increased since the courts ended it.

Crime has continued to drop, nearly two years into de Blasio's tenure, although stop and searches have been reduced by 97%. As a result of what O'Neill calls "precision policing," officers are better able to target likely suspects.

The improvement in police-community relationships as a result may not be measurable but the crime statistics are a reasonable indicator.

Taking It Local: Roosevelt Island's Precinct 114

In 1993, when the City began the organized gathering of data in CompStat, the 114th Precinct, which includes Roosevelt Island, registered 8,690 major crimes for the year. That's nearly 24 per day.

You wouldn't know it from the news media, but by 2015, the number had dropped by an astonishing 82.3%

That's right. The same precinct saw major crimes reduced to 1,767 or less than 5 per day.

There is plenty of credit to go around, and I'm far from expert enough to judge whether reducing drugs, gangs or improved policing are responsible. But what should be clear to anyone is that the media narrative interrupted only for commercials, day in and day out, is fiction.

That fiction accounts for immeasurable social stress and division. If a nation can be led to believe that crime is rampant, when the opposite is true, attention can be turned away from more serious issues we need to face, like failing educational values, environmental destruction and widespread discrimination by age, sex and race.

Reality Versus the Media Narrative

Sure, there's still crime, violent crime. There always will be along with the tragedies it drags with it, but it's at historic lows, so radically improved no optimist could have predicted it.

And honest, effective solutions are being honed daily. So, why do some people see things so differently?

The easy answer is that TV addiction is an American epidemic with adults averaging more than five hours a day in front of the idiot box.

Television is an advertising medium. Any entertainment value is there for no other reason than to deliver you to advertisers of products you might not bother with otherwise.

It holds true across the whole media spectrum.

Addictions demand ramped up doses. So, good news, which is the common stuff of your daily life, gets shoved aside for an ugly parade of violence, greed and frightening weather. We're told stories about a world that does not exist.

The New York Times missed yesterday's big news that, last month, was the most crime free September since New York adopted the CompStat reporting system in 1993, but they did find time to publish one more scoop from Chris Christie's bridge closing scandal - from 2013.

How about CBS Local News, as another example? Top story: Ben Stiller battled prostate cancer two years ago. Oh, and they found room for a gas explosion in Paterson, New Jersey, and one more about exploding car sunroofs.

TV addiction takes a toll, and that is, for a lot of people, we make decisions in and about a world we deeply misunderstand.

You can't find enough statistics to make it clear, but the reality is that we live in what is probably the safest, most crime free time in the history of the our country

It's certainly the safest in the years I've lived in New York, as statistics show, and Roosevelt Island may be safest place of all.

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