There is a shortage of police officers — not just in New York City, but across the country.
The number of sworn officers serving and protecting our streets has dropped to numbers not seen since the Clinton administration rapidly expanded law enforcement in the 1990s. According to the Bureau of Justice, there were just 2.17 officers per 1,000 people in 2016, compared to 2.42 in 1997.
According to those statistics, the country hired close to 52,500 more police officers in that two-decade stretch. But with the American population growing nearly 19 percent, we should have actually added 134,000 to keep pace.
That difference is significant, yet crime as a whole — especially the crime tracked by the New York Police Department — remains at near-historic lows. People continue to commit crimes — even heinous ones likes murder and rape — but nowhere near the levels before the Clinton years.
In the 50th Precinct, for example, total reported crime dropped 15 percent between 1990 and 1993, and a whopping 47 percent between 1993 and 1998.
When you compare last year to 1990, crime is down 82 percent, according to NYPD-released data. To put that in better perspective, last year the 5-0 dealt with an average of 2.6 crimes per day. In 1990? It was more than 10 times that at 13.9 crimes per day.
Even vehicle theft — probably the most visible crime in our community — has dropped significantly, from 6.6 grand larceny autos per day in 1990 to one every four days.
Technology may have played a hand in some of that, but we also cannot discount the hard work of the men and women who make up the police department. What was once a dangerous proposition walking across this part of the Bronx covered by the precinct is now something pretty much all of us would do without a second thought.
Yes, the 50th Precinct needs more officers. But so do all the other precincts. And some far more than we do.
Murder spiked last year, due to a number of domestic incidents. But even 100 more officers in the 50th would not have prevented any of those. Vehicle burglaries continue to be an issue, but there are other neighborhoods in the city facing far worse issues.
We might have had seven homicides last year, but the 43rd Precinct in the South Bronx had 13. We may have had 97 grand theft autos, but the 47th Precinct in Woodlawn had 205.
We need resources, but so does everyone. We need to be patient, because there are at least 50 other precincts with much higher crime rates — quite rightfully — ahead of us in line.