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Northern Manhattan Safer than Greenwich Village, Says New Crime Report

By DNAinfo Staff on September 7, 2011 6:30am

DNAinfo.com's interactive
DNAinfo.com's interactive "Crime & Safety Report" used crime and Census data to rank the city's neighborhoods.
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DNAinfo/Jason Tucker

By DNAinfo.com Staff

MANHATTAN — Washington Heights and Inwood are far safer places to live in Manhattan than Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District, according to a new report by DNAinfo.com that examines crime and safety in the city’s neighborhoods.

The "Crime & Safety Report," which ranks every neighborhood in New York for per capita crime, found that high property crime rates are dragging down Greenwich Village, which came in 68th out of 69 neighborhoods for overall safety. Dramatic drops in crime across the board in Washington Heights and Inwood gave those neighborhoods a boost.

Only Midtown, which has a higher density of tourists and commuters compared to residents, had more crime per capita than the Village and the Meatpacking District. It finished last in the neighborhood rankings.

DNAinfo.com's "Crime & Safety Report" allows users to measure crime trends for New York City neighborhoods.
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DNAinfo/Jason Tucker

Surprisingly, Northern Manhattan fared much better than its southern counterparts. Inwood and Washington Heights are the third and fourth safest neighborhoods in Manhattan and 23rd and 24th safest in all five boroughs, respectively. East Harlem, Central Harlem and West Harlem also have much lower per capita crime than the Village.

"There were precincts I studied in the past, such as Washington Heights, where I was told to wear a bulletproof vest when I went on a ride with the police," said Thomas Reppetto, author of "The NYPD: A City and its Police" and the former president of the nonprofit group Citizens Crime Commission. "That tells you something about it then, and how much it has changed now."

Blame the thieves — property crime is by far the Village's biggest crime concern. Factor out those offenses, and the neighborhood's ranking rises to No. 32. Yet that's still below Inwood and Washington Heights, and even lower than Morris Heights in the Bronx, at 27th.

"We do have a really hard core criminal element down there," said Terri Howell, vice president of the Christopher Street Patrol.

That includes gang activity, she said, but the most common crimes Howell finds in the Village include excessive noise, fighting and drug and alcohol use.

Downtown also didn't fare well in the report, despite its resurgence since 9/11 with new condos, restaurants and skyscrapers. It finished 63rd out of 69 neighborhoods, undermined by high rates of property crime.

Still, Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin disagreed with using the neighborhood's population to determine its crime rate because Downtown sees a daily influx of tourists and commuters.

"I feel safe in lower Manhattan, because we have a very strong community. We're a community of survivors," Menin said. "I have always felt safe in lower Manhattan. It's where I chose to raise my three kids."

Per capita comparisons, derived by dividing the number of crimes by the number of people who live in a particular area, are recognized as the standard for measuring crime by the US government and law enforcement agencies.

DNAinfo.com's interactive report, which marries crime statistics from the NYPD’s CompStat database with U.S. Census population information from 2009-2010, also found:

• Murders, rapes and robberies are all on the rise citywide. Based on 2009-2010 data, murder and rape both jumped nearly 14 percent, as robberies inched up more than 4 percent.

• The five safest neighborhoods in Manhattan are: The Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Inwood, Washington Heights and Kips Bay.

• The least safe neighborhoods citywide are: Midtown, Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District, Hunts Point, Brownsville, the Flatiron District and Fort Greene.

• Gentrifying neighborhoods are not necessarily the safest. Park Slope came in 12th in Brooklyn, behind Coney Island (9), Kensington (1) and Red Hook (10).

The Crime & Safety Report, which examined crime rates in New York since CompStat records began in 1993, found that although the overall crime rate went down by 1.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, murders increased for the first time in decades, by 13.8 percent.

Robberies climbed by 4.5 percent. Rapes spiked by 13.9 percent; the worst rises were in Harlem, where all three sections — East Harlem, Central Harlem and West Harlem — suffered rates that were among the highest in the city. Felony assaults edged up by 1 percent.

"This is ground-breaking and a must-read for people who want to know about the crime problem in their neighborhood," said Andrew Karmen, an expert criminologist and Sociology Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

"[DNAinfo.com] has compiled side-by-side all the different crimes and all the different neighborhoods that you can't find anywhere else."

To read the full report, visit www.dnainfo.com/crime-safety-report.