Chart Of The Day

Minor Crimes

Ben Casselman and Andrew Flowers examine police stats on Eric Garner’s neighborhood:

The New York City Police Department collects data on criminal complaints by precinct, broken down by the level of the alleged offense — felonies, misdemeanors and “violations,” which are minor crimes such as harassment, disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. We can use felonies per capita as a measure of the serious crimes people are most concerned about. Violations per capita, meanwhile, is a measure of broken windows-type offenses, which usually involve more discretion from the police. (The data we’re using lumps together cases where a police officer witnesses a crime directly and cases where a member of the public calls in a complaint. A police spokesman said most violation-level offenses are witnessed by an officer.) As the chart [above] shows, there’s a strong relationship between the two: Neighborhoods with more felonies also have more minor violations. That’s what we’d expect in a city using the broken windows approach.

But look at the red dot representing Staten Island’s 120th precinct, which includes Tompkinsville. It’s significantly above the trend line, meaning it has a higher rate of violations than expected based on its underlying crime rate. From 2008 to 2012, the precinct averaged 11 violations annually per 1,000 residents; based on its felony rate, we’d only expect about seven. Only one of New York’s 76 precincts has a larger disparity.