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Did Giuliani really bust N.Y.C. crime - or was it science?
The Concord Monitor ^ | July 9, 2007 | SHANKAR VEDANTAM

Posted on 07/09/2007 1:32:26 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Rudy Giuliani never misses an opportunity to remind people about his track record in fighting crime as mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001.

"I began with the city that was the crime capital of America," Giuliani, now a candidate for president, recently told Fox's Chris Wallace. "When I left, it was the safest large city in America. I reduced homicides by 67 percent. I reduced overall crime by 57 percent."

While crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani's tenure, a broad range of scientific research has emerged in recent years to show the mayor deserves only a fraction of the credit that he claims. The most compelling information has come from an economist in Fairfax, Va., who has argued in a series of little-noticed papers that the "New York miracle" was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce exposure to lead poisoning.

The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical explanation for fluctuations in the crime rate and is based on studies linking exposure to lead in children with violent behavior later in their lives.

What makes Nevin's work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.

"It is stunning how strong the association is," Nevin said in an interview. "Sixty-five to 90 percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead." Through much of the 20th century, lead in U.S. paint and gasoline fumes poisoned toddlers as they put contaminated hands in their mouths. The consequences on crime, Nevin found, occurred when poisoning victims became adolescents. Nevin does not say lead is the only factor behind crime, but he says it's the biggest.

Giuliani's presidential campaign declined to address Nevin's contention that the mayor merely was at the right place at the right time. But William Bratton, who served as Giuliani's police commissioner and initiated many of the policing techniques credited with reducing the crime rate, dismissed Nevin's theory as absurd. Bratton and Giuliani instituted harsh measures against quality-of-life offenses, based on the "broken windows" theory of addressing minor offenses to head off more serious crimes.

Other theories

Many other theories have emerged to explain the crime decline. In the 2005 book Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner said the legalization of abortion in 1973 had eliminated "unwanted babies" who would have become violent criminals. Other experts credited lengthy prison terms for violent offenders, or demographic changes, socioeconomic factors, and the rise and fall of drug epidemics.

Most of the theories have been long on intuition and short on evidence. Nevin's data not only explain the decline in crime in the 1990s, but the rise in crime in the 1980s, and other fluctuations going back a century. His data from multiple countries, which have different abortion rates, police strategies, demographics and economic conditions, show lead is the only explanation that can account for international trends.

Because the countries phased out lead at different points, they provide a rigorous test: In each instance, the violent crime rate tracks lead poisoning levels two decades earlier.

"It is startling how much mileage has been given to the theory that abortion in the early 1970s was responsible for the decline in crime" in the 1990s, Nevin said. "But they legalized abortion in Britain and the violent crime in Britain soared in the 1990s. The difference is our gasoline lead levels peaked in the early '70s and started falling in the late '70s, and fell very sharply through the early 1980s and was virtually eliminated by 1986 or '87.

"In Britain and most of Europe, they did not have meaningful constraints (on leaded gasoline) until the mid-1980s and even early 1990s," he added. "This is the reason you are seeing the crime rate soar in Mexico and Latin America, but (it) has fallen in the United States."

Lead levels plummeted in New York in the early 1970s, driven by federal policies to eliminate lead from gasoline and local policies to reduce lead emissions from municipal incinerators. Between 1970 and 1974, the number of New York children heavily poisoned by lead fell by more than 80 percent, according to data from the New York City Department of Health.

Lead levels in New York have continued to fall. One analysis in the late 1990s found that children in New York had lower lead exposure than children in many other big U.S. cities, possibly because of a 1960 policy to replace old windows. That policy, meant to reduce deaths from falls, had an unforeseen benefit - old windows are a continuing source of lead poisoning, said Dave Jacobs of the National Center for Healthy Housing.

The effect was dramatic. In 1990, 31 New Yorkers out of every 100,000 were murdered. In 2004, the rate was 7 per 100,000 - lower than most big cities. The lead theory also explains why crime fell broadly across the United States in the 1990s, not just in New York.

Century-long analysis

The centerpiece of Nevin's research is a century-long analysis of crime rates and lead poisoning levels: The United States has had two spikes of lead poisoning, one at the turn of the 20th century, linked to lead in household paint, and after World War II, when the use of leaded gasoline increased sharply.

Both times, the violent crime rate went up and down in concert - with the violent crime peaks coming two decades after the lead poisoning peaks.

Other evidence has accumulated in recent years that lead is a neurotoxin that causes impulsivity and aggression, but these studies have also drawn little attention. In 2001, sociologist Paul Stretesky and criminologist Michael Lynch showed that U.S. counties with high lead levels had four times the murder rate of counties with low lead levels, after controlling for multiple socioeconomic factors.

In 2002, Herbert Needleman, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh, compared lead levels of 194 adolescents arrested in Pittsburgh with lead levels of 146 high school adolescents: The arrested youths had lead levels that were four times higher.

"Impulsivity means you ignore the consequences of what you do," said Needleman, one of the country's foremost experts on lead poisoning, explaining why Nevin's theory is plausible. Lead decreases the ability to tell yourself, "If I do this, I will go to jail."

Nevin's work has been published mainly in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Politics/Elections; US: New York
KEYWORDS: 2008; 2008electionbias; abortion; banglist; denialaintariver; electionpresident; elections; freakonomics; giuliani; giulianitruthfile; gop; junkscience; leadpoisoning; newyorkcity; pseudoscience; republicans; rino; rudygiuliani; takeabiteoutofcrime; toughoncrime; whitehouse
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FWIW.
1 posted on 07/09/2007 1:32:30 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Crime is going to be a big issue over the next several years.


2 posted on 07/09/2007 1:34:16 PM PDT by Brilliant
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States.”

Apparently, lead poisoning must be on the increase then.


3 posted on 07/09/2007 1:35:40 PM PDT by Brilliant
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I thought it was because of Dinkins’ police initiatives...or was it Clinton’s COPS program? Certainly there’s NO chance the mayor of New York had anything to do with it....


4 posted on 07/09/2007 1:35:52 PM PDT by NativeNewYorker (Freepin' Jew Boy)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
How can this be if we are one step away from a Global Cataclysm...What a bunch of BS.

I guess Camden NJ is now the Lead capital of the world!

5 posted on 07/09/2007 1:35:57 PM PDT by frogjerk (If ignorance was bliss, liberals would be happy.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Every week there is a new pet theory relating the drop in violent crime to increased abortions, or to reduced lead poisoning, or to the death of the original wave of crackheads or some such rot.

Violent crime is down because of:

(1) Giuliani and other mayors implementing Jack Maple's CompStat program for tracking crimes and punishing QOL violations, and

(2) Putting more violent criminals behind bars for longer.

6 posted on 07/09/2007 1:36:37 PM PDT by wideawake ("Pearl Harbor is America's fault, right, Mommy?" Ron Paul, age 6, 12/7/1941)
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To: wideawake
(2) Putting more violent criminals behind bars for longer.

Bingo! I still remember reading newspaper story after newspaper story about how people were confounded that while crime is dropping, more people are in prison longer. They couldn't figure out the connection and that if you keep criminals in prison they don't commit crimes!

7 posted on 07/09/2007 1:39:51 PM PDT by Phantom Lord (Fall on to your knees for the Phantom Lord)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Proper application of lead delivered at high velocity can stop a crime.


8 posted on 07/09/2007 1:40:08 PM PDT by 5Madman2 (There is no such thing as an experienced suicide bomber)
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To: 1riot1ranger; Action-America; Aggie Mama; Alkhin; Allegra; American72; antivenom; Antoninus II; ...

Houston’s crime rate has gone up and up for nearly a decade.

Explain the science behind that without blaming our mayors and police/crime lab.


9 posted on 07/09/2007 1:40:28 PM PDT by weegee (If the Fairness Doctrine is imposed on USA who will CNN news get to read the conservative rebuttal)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Also, the fall of the Berlin Wall was due to the fact that the East Germans had started using an inferior grade of Mortar back in the mid-1980’s.

/S


10 posted on 07/09/2007 1:41:18 PM PDT by Our man in washington
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I'm willing to give Rudy credit for reducing crime in NYC. That said, I believe that there is a much different skill set needed to be President of the United States, versus Mayor of New York City.

I'd be quite happy if Rudy had challenged Hillary for the US Senate in either 2000 or 2006, New York would be much better off with him in that position, and the country would be better off if she had simply been defeated, and living back in Illinois after the divorce...

11 posted on 07/09/2007 1:41:52 PM PDT by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

FWIW-not much. this is a most pathetic situation, when they have to reach this far....crime isn’t the fault of the criminal. it’s a result of an environmental factor, which could have been prevented if only everyone had the same income.


12 posted on 07/09/2007 1:42:00 PM PDT by wildwood
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Not worth much. :)

I was young when Guiliani first came in, but even I remember the lib press screaming because he took the homeless off the benches and the squeegee men off the streets.

Just the fact the left hated him so much indicated to me he was doing good. I remember all the hospital workers protesting in the streets before the election, crying Doom! if Guiliani won.

The night he one I remember the anchor! very upset on TV saying, “You people are going to get what you deserve.” He couldn’t believe NYer’s voted for a Republican. He was black, so he probably thought all the minorites would be dragged out into the streets.


13 posted on 07/09/2007 1:43:26 PM PDT by I still care ("Remember... for it is the doom of men that they forget" - Merlin, from Excalibur)
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To: Brilliant
EXACTLY! I guess Detroit, Baltimore, and New Orleans are swimming in lead.

The way this study is applied here could be disproved rather simply by correlating the current crime rates in high crime cities and those with recent sustained increases with lead paint exposure.

Hey, I wonder if the New Orleans evacuees brought lead paint exposure with them to Houston?

14 posted on 07/09/2007 1:43:40 PM PDT by enough_idiocy (Just like against terrorism, in politics you can't be on the defensive all the time!!!!)
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To: hunter112
The thing is, Rudy is being arrogant about fighting crime - and 9/11 too. He's done a respectable job, I say respectable because these weren't his ideas to begin with. He merely put a sociologist's theory to practice and got lucky it worked as it did.

But he wasn't the Batman like his groupies insinuate he was.

15 posted on 07/09/2007 1:45:30 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Nevin does not say lead is the only factor behind crime, but he says it’s the biggest.”

I quit reading there. Upbringing and role-modeling is the biggest, imo


16 posted on 07/09/2007 1:45:55 PM PDT by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: 5Madman2
Proper application of lead delivered at high velocity can stop a crime.

LOL!

"Lead... both the cause and solution to crime."

17 posted on 07/09/2007 1:48:02 PM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: weegee
Houston’s crime rate has gone up and up for nearly a decade. Explain the science behind that without blaming our mayors and police/crime lab.

And sending in thousands of Katrina criminals isn't helping.

18 posted on 07/09/2007 1:48:21 PM PDT by Phantom Lord (Fall on to your knees for the Phantom Lord)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Rooty Toot wants everyone to respect his record on reducing crime while Mayor of the big apple. Yet this NYCity liberal believes a Constitutional right exists for abortion on demand and for women to kill their unborn children.

Respect for human life throughout every stage of development should be of paramount concern to all people. Especially Presidential candidates attempting to garner the nomination of America’s major pro-life party.

Giuliani isn’t qualified to be the GOP nominee, for a myriad of reasons.

19 posted on 07/09/2007 1:48:29 PM PDT by Reagan Man (FUHGETTABOUTIT Rudy....... Conservatives don't vote for liberals!)
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To: enough_idiocy
EXACTLY! I guess Detroit, Baltimore, and New Orleans are swimming in lead.

They are! Problem is, it is traveling at high speed in a very directional manner.

20 posted on 07/09/2007 1:50:09 PM PDT by Phantom Lord (Fall on to your knees for the Phantom Lord)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Lead poisoning reduces crime when combined with the correct amount of cordite.


21 posted on 07/09/2007 1:53:20 PM PDT by azhenfud (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Bratton and Giuliani instituted harsh measures against quality-of-life offenses, based on the “broken windows” theory of addressing minor offenses to head off more serious crimes.”

Correct. This long-winded article detracts from the truth of what was happening on the streets: giving the police authority to deal with lawbreakers, and re-programming people to comply with the tenets of law and order.


22 posted on 07/09/2007 1:53:42 PM PDT by Canedawg (In God We Trust)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If you look at the real crime statistics, you’ll notice that the crime rate started to decline well before Giuliani became mayor.

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/nycrime.htm


23 posted on 07/09/2007 1:54:33 PM PDT by Clam Digger
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

He targeted sex shops, especially along 42nd street. He also targeted squeegee windshield washers. I believe both actions contributed to the decrease in NYC crime by improving the quality of life.


24 posted on 07/09/2007 1:55:32 PM PDT by Tai_Chung
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To: hunter112
I'm willing to give Rudy credit for reducing crime in NYC.

You'd be wrong, then. The trend toward reduced crime started well before he became mayor.

25 posted on 07/09/2007 1:56:37 PM PDT by Clam Digger
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

What did he do about 9/11 that makes him deserve any credit? What did he do? Everyone loves him for what he did on 9/11, but they can’t say what it is he actually did.


26 posted on 07/09/2007 1:58:39 PM PDT by Clam Digger
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
He merely put a sociologist's theory to practice and got lucky it worked as it did.

Perhaps. But for him to put the theory into practice he had to take on the entrenched liberal and minority interests in the heart of the beast and defeat them.

That takes very big brass ones, whatever else you can say about the man.

27 posted on 07/09/2007 1:59:11 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Rudy implemented zero tolerance on quality of life crime and most importantly ordered the NYPD to hold everyone to be ticketed for a minor offense long enough for there to be a warrant check and a parole status check. This sent thousands of criminals back behind bars. iow...he nailed them on the little stuff thereby prohibiting them from doing the big stuff.


28 posted on 07/09/2007 2:00:29 PM PDT by wtc911 ("How you gonna get back down that hill?")
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To: Clam Digger

Actually, I think the trend towards increased personal responsibility among minorities in NYC took a giant leap in ‘95 after the Million Man March. There was a change in attitude in many ways after that in a lot of people I saw.

But Giuliani knew what had to be done before that, and stuck to his plan in spite of the local liberal media crying and moaning about it.


29 posted on 07/09/2007 2:01:43 PM PDT by Canedawg (In God We Trust)
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To: Brilliant

“lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States.”

Plausible marker, really.

As only unattended kids chew on lead paint, and unattended kids are more likely to grow up to be thugs than kids of parents who care about their kids and their stuff.

But lead causing the behavior? Doubt it.


30 posted on 07/09/2007 2:04:02 PM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: weegee

Humidity rots the brain.


31 posted on 07/09/2007 2:04:38 PM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: Clam Digger

Well putting the C&C for terrorist attack in the WTC after the WTC was attacked the first time was brilliant.

(yeah, sarcasm)


32 posted on 07/09/2007 2:05:48 PM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Fred Thompson)
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To: Clam Digger

Giuliani also tried to extend his term beyond what it was supposed to be following the 9/11 attacks. Someone should hit him on that.


33 posted on 07/09/2007 2:07:15 PM PDT by AzaleaCity5691
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To: Clam Digger

“....Everyone loves him for what he did on 9/11....”

Count me out.....the way I see it, he was worthless except for the walk-on to Saturday Night Live to bless SNL with the right to be “funny” again, and refusing the Saudi money......beyond that, the WTC/911 matter would have evolved as it did quite well without him....and in some ways it might have been better had he not been entrenched prior to it, IMO.


34 posted on 07/09/2007 2:09:05 PM PDT by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: AzaleaCity5691

Giuliani also tried to extend his term beyond what it was supposed to be following the 9/11 attacks.”

It was strongly considered iirc, but I think he abandoned that idea prior to taking the rule to task.


35 posted on 07/09/2007 2:20:23 PM PDT by Canedawg (In God We Trust)
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To: Vn_survivor_67-68

“WTC/911 matter would have evolved as it did quite well without him....and in some ways it might have been better had he not been entrenched prior to it, IMO.”

Entrenched? LOL. He was a lame duck mayor ready to ride off into the sunset with his younger gf. It was only after 9/11 that anyone even thought of him sticking around for another term.

In Freep’s zeal to denigrate him since he isnt the potus candidate of choice here, I think some are viewing his history through a biased prism.


36 posted on 07/09/2007 2:23:22 PM PDT by Canedawg (In God We Trust)
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To: Canedawg

his “preparations” for it - esp since his term of office began in the wake of the FIRST WTC bombing - were pathetic - from the git, thru his entire term, and ESP beginning on tuesday morning of 911 just before 9am.

You know it, and so does every other rudybot.......and everyone else, too.


37 posted on 07/09/2007 2:29:39 PM PDT by Vn_survivor_67-68
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To: I still care

Yeah,and I remember how the MSM wailed how the Police
were arresting those that jumped over the turnstiles
in the subway.

Found that people who did that quite often had outstanding
warrants.Suprise Suprise.Criminals don`t just do big
crimes,often do smaller ones.

Still don`t want him for President


38 posted on 07/09/2007 2:31:30 PM PDT by 31M20RedDevil (Fred Thompson for President)
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To: I still care

I experienced it all too. They’re stooping really low to try take that away from him.


39 posted on 07/09/2007 2:35:41 PM PDT by RDTF (Republicans believe every day is July 4th, but Democrats believe every day is April 15th. - Reagan)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Did reducing lead content help lower crime rates. Sure. But it helped lower crime rates in the Bloomberg, Dinkins and Koch administrations as much as it during the Giuliani administration. So comparing crime rates in the Giuliani administration to crime rates in the Dinkins adminsitration is still comparing apples to apples.

big apples.


40 posted on 07/09/2007 2:52:15 PM PDT by dangus
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Giuliani blinded me with science?


41 posted on 07/09/2007 3:00:25 PM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG (Apparently my former party considers me an "ugly nativist".)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If my kids and grandkids have to live under a boot heel, to Hell with safe cities! I hear that Havana is even safer than NYC, Rudy!
I’ve shared the water with sharks and gators, sailed big water in little boats, I dodged the teeth and bullets all my life and I wish I could do it all again.
Safe cities, my behind, want a safe city? Be a man, refuse to cower and whimper.
Best I shut up while I’m ahead, but dammit anyway!


42 posted on 07/09/2007 3:01:56 PM PDT by SWAMPSNIPER (THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS A MATTER OF FACT, NOT A MATTER OF OPINION)
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To: wideawake
Violent crime is down because of:

(1) Giuliani and other mayors implementing Jack Maple's CompStat program for tracking crimes and punishing QOL violations, and

(2) Putting more violent criminals behind bars for longer.

Exactly

43 posted on 07/09/2007 3:04:01 PM PDT by finnman69 (May Paris Hilton's plane crash into Britney Spears house while Lindsey Lohan is over)
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To: Clam Digger

That link shows the majority of the drops happening under Giuliani’s watch and increasing during the late 90’s. Also, if you compare the performance over time compared to other cities, NYC improved more than other cities, and by 2001, while other cities like chicago and San Diego were experiencing resurgence in crime, NYC continued to see crime drop.

Credit due to Giuliani.


44 posted on 07/09/2007 3:10:59 PM PDT by finnman69 (May Paris Hilton's plane crash into Britney Spears house while Lindsey Lohan is over)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
File photo of the author:


45 posted on 07/09/2007 3:16:29 PM PDT by quark
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Did Giuliani really bust N.Y.C. crime - or was it science?

Latch on to this at your peril. If you despise Rudy enough to trade your intellect for few electrons on a flat-screen, you're to be pitied.

Accepting the willfully blind -- and that should leave us with a handful of FReepers -- anyone can see the Mr. Giuliani is charismatic and strong and, as a former Federal Prosecutor who took down Michael Milken, certainly had some momentum in the way of "law enforcement" going for him, in marked contrast to his predecessors in NYC.

Even his most animated detractors can see this, unless they've made themselves willfully blind, in which case they've become the "useful idiots" they so like to assail here.

46 posted on 07/09/2007 3:38:01 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (Life is an episode of Green Acres. THEN you die.)
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

“He merely put a sociologist’s theory to practice and got lucky it worked as it did.”

There is no “merely” for a guy like Guliani implementing such policies in violently liberal NY.

There is a lot I don’t like about him but he’s probably the toughest SOB running to date.


47 posted on 07/09/2007 4:09:10 PM PDT by TalBlack
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Demographics are much in play. Baby Boom followed by Baby Bust. If there is a high crime rate then look for a high percentage of young people.


48 posted on 07/09/2007 4:10:37 PM PDT by decimon
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To: Canedawg
In Freep’s zeal to denigrate him since he isnt the potus candidate of choice here, I think some are viewing his history through a biased prism.

His avowed support for gun control and abortion on demand are lies?

49 posted on 07/09/2007 4:33:11 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: TalBlack
There is a lot I don’t like about him but he’s probably the toughest SOB running to date.

Guiliani and NYC are perfect for each other. The city needed his authoritarian, F-you style of leadership.

Problem is, most of America isn't New York. My city's mayor sure in the hell wouldn't participate in a gay pride parade if we had one; nor would he dare try to "crack down" on gun owners in the ruse of fighting crime.

So let Rudy run for Mayor of Philly or L.A. and clean up those cities and leave the Presidency alone.

50 posted on 07/09/2007 4:39:29 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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