The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump ally complaints aside, crime is down in Manhattan

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York on Friday. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post )
3 min

Ever since murmurs of a potential indictment of Donald Trump first began, he and his allies have offered a slew of arguments against the idea.

They argued that such an action, despite the evidence against the former president, would be an unacceptable political act. They insisted that it was simply an extension of the left’s long-standing crusade against him. And, tying in a common theme from last year’s midterm elections, they goggled at the priorities of the Manhattan district attorney as New York was overrun with crime. This is what he’s spending his energy on?

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In the immediate aftermath of news about the indictment, that particular argument soon made an appearance. Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) tweeted it.

It probably won’t assuage the senator’s concerns, but in the interests of accuracy: Crime is actually down in New York City so far this year.

The city — unlike many jurisdictions — offers up-to-date statistics on criminal complaints and, helpfully, includes comparisons to years past. So we can see that, of the seven most severe categories of crime included in the city’s metrics, five are down relative to this point in 2022. That’s also true of both shooting incidents and shooting victims — and of crime overall.

The only categories of serious crime that are up are auto theft and felony assault.

But that’s New York City overall, not New York County, the jurisdiction in which Trump was indicted. There, in Manhattan, murder is flat (16 to date this year) but violent crime overall is down.

Only felony assault and grand larceny are up in the territory for which District Attorney Alvin Bragg is responsible. (Not that he is in charge of making arrests; you’ve seen “Law and Order.” But this is the argument from Trump’s allies, not me.)

It is true that crime is up in New York relative to a few years ago or even a decade or so ago. Murders are down throughout the city, but violent crime overall is up.

At times, Trump has suggested that the level of crime in New York is somehow unprecedented, which is clearly not true. Relative to 1993, violent crime of all kinds is down precipitously. That’s not much consolation for recent victims of crime, certainly, but it’s still true.

Again, none of this is really about chiding Bragg for his failures as an arm of law enforcement. It is, instead, an effort to undercut the validity of the indictment and, at the same time, to ding Democrats as being weak on crime.

In this case, though, it falls flat. If you’re worried about surging crime, then you should want to see crime go down. In Manhattan, it is.

One recent indictment notwithstanding.

Update: In a statement, Trump’s campaign claimed that “[r]ather than stopping the unprecedented crime wave taking over New York City, [Bragg] is doing Joe Biden’s dirty work.” Again: Crime in New York is not “unprecedented” and is, in fact, on the decline.