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SURVEILLANCE  November 2000

SURVEILLANCE November 2000

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Subject:

NYTimes.com Article: Computers to Track 'Quality of Life' Crime, Giuliani Says

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Thu, 16 Nov 2000 04:33:14 -0500 (EST)

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This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by pantelis panteloglou [log in to unmask]



an interesting version of everyday use of high technology, formerly used for other reasons! :-|


pantelis panteloglou
[log in to unmask]

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Computers to Track 'Quality of Life' Crime, Giuliani Says
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/15/technology/15MAYO.html

November 15, 2000

By ERIC LIPTON

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani sent out a pre-holiday warning yesterday to
panhandlers, squeegee crews, prostitutes, noisemakers and others
who he said disturb the public peace, announcing his latest
crackdown on "quality of life" crimes in New York City, this time
with a high-tech spin.

 Since he came into office nearly seven years ago, Mr. Giuliani has
unveiled a series of similar law enforcement initiatives, often as
the holidays neared and hordes of tourists visited the city. What
distinguishes this latest campaign, according to the Giuliani
administration, is the enlistment of a Police Department computer
mapping system traditionally used to monitor more serious crimes
like robbery, rape and murder.

 Now, complaints about everything from loud music to graffiti,
public drinking, prostitution, panhandling and homelessness will be
"pin mapped" precinct by precinct, and police supervisors will be
expected to move quickly and aggressively to counter any trends,
the mayor and his police commissioner, Bernard B. Kerik, said.

 "This will now be a major area where precinct commanders and
people in the precincts are held accountable," Mr. Giuliani said.
"And it really has to be done that way because quality-of-life
problems are very different depending on the part of the city you
are in."

 Yesterday's City Hall news conference, which drew a standing-room
only crowd to the ceremonial Blue Room, represented a return of
sorts to the center stage for the mayor. This summer and fall have
been dominated by the ongoing election drama and baseball. The
mayor has also had to curtail his activities, at least a bit, as a
result of his continuing prostate cancer treatment. 

 But the mayor was in full form yesterday, boasting about the
city's much-heralded success in cutting crime and his newest plans
to push the numbers even lower. He made no reference to the ongoing
trial of Paris Drake, the 36-year-old man charged with randomly
attacking a young woman in Midtown last November with a six-pound
paving stone. But it was clear that he was trying to reassure the
public that crackdowns on the homeless, as well as earlier ones
related to graffiti, loud radios and other nuisance crimes, are
still under way.

 "The City of New York is now world famous for its turnaround, its
renaissance, its reform, whatever you want to call it," Mr.
Giuliani said. "The core, however, of the turnaround of New York
City has to do with public safety and quality of life. I would like
to remind people of that."

 Within hours of the announcement, though, some community leaders
and civil libertarians were questioning the impact the mayor's new
initiative might have, other than to earn some public relations
notice. Most of the nuisance crimes cited by the mayor yesterday
have been the focus of special enforcement efforts before, they
noted. They also raised concerns that in the zeal to impose order,
the administration might compromise individual rights.

 "The real issue here is what tactics will the N.Y.P.D. employ and
whether these tactics will violate people's civil liberties, as
they have done before," said Norman Siegel, executive director of
the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Other municipalities, such as
Boston and San Diego, have dramatically reduced crime without this
dark side."

 But the mayor defended the city's policies, particularly last
year's initiative to try to remove the homeless from the streets,
saying that contrary to predictions, the police arrested only a
small percentage of the homeless they encountered since last
November. Of the 28,671 homeless questioned by the police in the
last 12 months, 6,365 were transported to shelters, 532 were taken
to hospitals and another 1,317, or 4.6 percent of those questioned,
were arrested on charges including outstanding warrants, urinating
in public and disruptive behavior with police officers or social
workers, the mayor said.

 The mayor also took the chance yesterday to offer a few quick
civics lessons as a defense of his focus on these "quality of life"
crimes. Regarding the homeless, he said: "You are not allowed to
live on a street in a civilized city. It is not good for you; it is
not good for us." He added: "Maybe the city was stupid enough to
embrace that idea years ago. We care about you enough and are not
that dumb to think you should live on streets. So we contact and
tell you, you have got to move."

 The mayor gave little hint of which of the many threats to civil
order that he cited would get the most attention. But police
officials said enforcement efforts would be based, in part, on
complaints collected from the mayor's Quality of Life phone line
(888-677-LIFE or 888-677-5433), which in the first eight and a half
months of this year received 38,167 calls, with noise complaints by
far the most frequent.

 Commissioner Kerik said that the police would not expand any
squads assigned to "quality of life" crimes or increase spending on
overtime. Instead, at weekly meetings of precinct commanders and
other department officials, progress in combating nuisance crimes
will be discussed and officers out on routine patrols will now be
expected to pay more attention to them. Mr. Kerik said that unless
there is a consistent focus on these kinds of complaints,
enforcement tends to surge and then decline.

 "Prostitution particularly, graffiti, panhandling, they will
disappear for a while, then when the focus and direction is off
those problematic areas out on the street they start to flourish
and pop back up again," Mr. Kerik said. "If we stay on them
constantly," he added, "we will be able to keep them to a very
minimal level."

 Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that the effort might result in a surge
in new citations and arrests, which could ultimately increase the
burden on the city's courts. But he added that that did not worry
him.

 "We explained it to the court," he said. "They may have to work a
little harder. That is good." 
      


The New York Times on the Web
http://www.nytimes.com

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updated throughout the day.

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