East Side Sees Increase in Narcotics Arrests

By Mary Johnson on September 29, 2011 6:59am's Crime & Safety Report shows an increase in narcotics arrests in several East Side neighborhoods.'s Crime & Safety Report shows an increase in narcotics arrests in several East Side neighborhoods.
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MANHATTAN — The number of narcotics arrests in several East Side neighborhoods has risen in recent years, according to data compiled in the comprehensive DNAinfo Crime and Safety Report.

In the 13th Precinct, which includes Gramercy and portions of Murray Hill, there was a 22.1 percent increase in the number of narcotics arrests from 2009 to 2010, rising from 272 to 332.

In the 17th Precinct, which includes Midtown East, Turtle Bay and Kips Bay, the increase over the same time period was slightly larger, at 32.1 percent, but the actual numbers were significantly lower, rising from 53 arrests in 2009 to 70 in 2010.

Those statistics mirror a larger trend of increases over the past 17 years. The 13th Precinct has seen an overall uptick of 37.9 percent in the number of narcotics arrests since 1993.

Meanwhile, in the 17th Precinct, the number of such arrests rose 9.4 percent in that same time period.

That trend comes as neighborhood residents have cheered safer streets.

Overall, the Murray Hill and Gramercy areas rank 15th safest for violent crime out of 69 neighborhoods in all of New York City, according to DNAinfo’s Crime and Safety Report. The Midtown East, Turtle Bay and Kips Bay neighborhoods rank fifth.

Mark Thompson, chair of Community Board 6, said the rise in narcotics arrests has likely been a result of more enforcement on the part of the two precincts.

“There does not seem to be a major drug problem in the neighborhood,” Thompson said.

“The police have been able to effectively step up enforcement in locations that have been trouble spots,” he added.  “When something pops up, it’s taken care of very quickly.”

Thompson has lived in New York for 30 years. He said he remembers a time when drugs were a pronounced presence in the city, when baggies and vials littered area parks.

But that has changed dramatically, he said, and people are more alert and less afraid “because the whole black cloud of drugs and potential violence isn’t there anymore,” he said.

“Maybe it’s happening somewhere else, but it’s not happening on the street, not like it used to,” Thompson added. “It’s almost completely disappeared. It just makes it a much better, safer city.”