SOUTH BRONX — Amid rising crime rates and bad publicity, trust in the NYPD is on the rise in the South Bronx, according to a new survey.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice asked about 200 young men aged 18 to 30 in the South Bronx, Harlem and East New York last year and this year about whether or not they thought they could count on the police to help when violence occurred in their neighborhoods.
Despite recent high profile deaths in New York at the hands of police officers, including those of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, the percentage of people surveyed who said they could count on the NYPD went up in each neighborhood.
The numbers rose from 31 to 39 percent of respondents in the South Bronx, 37 to 43 percent in Harlem and 19 to 30 percent in East New York.
The surveys also asked whether people would call the police when violence broke out in their neighborhoods. These numbers went up in the South Bronx and East New York as well, rising from 40 to 48 percent and 40 to 42 percent, respectively.
However, they dropped slightly in Harlem, declining from 55 to 53 percent.
John Jay Research Analyst Sheyla Delgado, a co-author of the briefs, said that slight differences in who was surveyed could have impacted the results, noting that they questioned a higher percentage of older people in 2015 than in 2014.
"It’s maybe that they’re more invested community members, or more invested in the community," she said, "and they think that they can report to the police to help them in times of distress."
The NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk practice has often been blamed for damaging relationships between officers and the communities they police, and although the percentage of survey respondents in the South Bronx who said they had been stopped in the past year held steady at 78 percent for 2014 and 2015, it dropped significantly in Harlem and East New York, going from 80 to 68 percent and 79 to 52 percent, respectively.
However, Delgado and Jeff Butts, director of John Jay's research and evaluation center, said they did not know yet whether these drops could be related to the increase in trust, and Butts cautioned against reading too much into numbers and trends that still only focused on a one year difference.
"At this point, we don't really know about cause and effect," he said.
"You always want to do a survey at least three times," he continued, "and some of them might be genuine, but others might disappear when you go to time three."
Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson, commanding officer of the South Bronx's 40th Precinct, said he was happy that trust in police had increased and suggested that factors ranging from body cameras to basketball tournaments between officers and community members could be having an impact.
"We've done a lot to get the community to work together with us, to collaborate," he said, "and I'm glad to see that the numbers are going up."