DNAinfo.com wanted to do something that had never been done before — to create a comprehensive resource for all New Yorkers that objectively shows how safe a neighborhood is across a broad spectrum of crime categories. To do so would require synthesizing a mountain of data from the NYPD and the U.S. Census Bureau. These figures held fascinating stories, but they needed the right people to extract them.
DNAinfo.com has journalists embedded in every neighborhood of Manhattan, chasing nearly every shooting, fire or murder from Inwood to the Battery. When the idea of compiling a comprehensive citywide Crime & Safety Report was conceived, DNAinfo.com knew they already had the perfect team in place including award-winning crime reporters, technology wizards, cutting-edge web designers and editors with decades of experience covering the city.
Murray Weiss, an award-winning veteran of the "New York Post" and the "New York Daily News," led the team of writers. Weiss has been working the city's streets and police precincts for over three decades. Also included were: Jon Schuppe, who has won several awards covering crime in Newark, N.J., and in Manhattan; John Doyle, a long-time "New York Post" crime reporter and son of a former NYPD officer; Tom Liddy, another "Post" crime desk veteran; and Dave Goldiner, a former "Daily News" staffer who has covered crime from South Africa to the Bronx.
Weiss started by obtaining the 2010 NYPD CompStat data to serve as the foundation of the DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report. Although the data is publicly available every Sunday, very few people other than journalists and cops actually look at it. It tabulates crime according to seven major categories — murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft for each borough and each of the NYPD's 76 individual precincts. The data logs included raw numbers from 2010 and 2009, and percentage changes going back two, nine and 17 years, the year that CompStat began. The calendar year 2010 ended on a Friday, and Weiss was able to get the CompStat data generated on that day, for every precinct, for the entire year.
Developing the first comprehensive city-wide Crime & Safety report presented several challenges. First and foremost was how to synchronize the crime and Census data. Most neighborhood lines are not officially drawn; everybody sees them differently. There are Community Board boundaries and police precincts, but they often do not match. And when they do, they may not correspond with what New Yorkers typically view as their neighborhood borders. So DNAinfo.com assembled a list of 69 neighborhoods that matched, as closely as possible, the 76 New York City police precinct boundaries.
In some cases, neighborhoods shared precincts, such as Murray Hill and Gramercy, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, and Long Island City and Astoria. Some neighborhoods were broken out of others: Washington Heights straddles Precinct 33 and 34, while Inwood is simply Precinct 34. By way of contrast, all of Staten Island is patrolled by the police from just three precincts.
John Keefe came to the rescue. The Senior Executive Producer for WNYC Radio developed a map that matched Census tract data to New York precincts and made it available for public use. From there DNAinfo.com was able to determine per capita crime for each neighborhood, and list each neighborhood accordingly.
Jason Tucker, DNAinfo.com's multimedia editor, then crunched the numbers to develop interactive maps and charts to explain the results in a straight forward, tangible fashion. Using figures obtained from the 2010 U.S. Census, Tucker accurately determined the population of each neighborhood and developed a comprehensive ranking system. The ranking formula was simple: divide the number of reported crimes in a neighborhood by the number of people living there. The result, a per-capita crime rate, evened the field between the most densely populated neighborhoods and those with fewer residents. For the neighborhoods' overall rankings, the seven major index crimes — violent and property — were weighted evenly.
The overall look for how all that data was presented was developed by DNAinfo.com's Art Director Tracy Prussin. Knowledgeable local reporters were assigned to tell the stories of each neighborhood. Tracy and Jason had the support of DNAinfo.com technology experts Michele Rose and Daniel Boland, who did much of the programming, coding and pay wall work.
Caroline Jumpertz is the editor of the DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, released in 2011. From the early 1990s, when she worked on police rounds and overnight shifts at "The Daily Telegraph" in Sydney, Australia, Caroline has honed her eye for a good crime story.
Nothing, however, could have prepared her for the job of coordinating the editorial content for the Crime & Safety Report, based on CompStat statistics from New York City's 76 precincts. She has spent months trawling through raw data, neighborhood safety rankings and stories for the 69 New York neighborhoods identified in the report. The project has involved a level of accuracy and analysis rarely seen, and it features cutting edge interactive displays and even a historical crime timeline.
Caroline has nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist, producer and editor in print and broadcast media. She lives in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, which is rated the 18th safest neighborhood in New York City.
Jason Tucker is the multimedia editor of the DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report, which means he not only crunched the numbers, but also created the flash heat maps and other interactive features. It was he who determined the neighborhood rankings, the data analysis involved coming naturally to this self-confessed childhood math nerd-turned-adult-data-nerd.
Jason moved to New York from North Carolina in 2008, after finishing his studies in multimedia journalism. He initially lived in West Harlem, ranked the 33rd safest in the Crime & Safety Report, but having been on the wrong side of that neighborhood�s crime statistics, he moved to the Upper West Side, and improved his ranking by 15 places.
Tracy Prussin is the designer for the Crime & Safety Report, which means that she has made the contents of the report as attractive, readable and user-friendly as possible.
With the maiden name of Coppola, Tracy was teased as a child, her friends claiming that her family was in the Mafia. The taunt of an organized crime connection was not a million miles from the truth, however: her grandmother dated mobsters, and her grandfather was a bookie who was eventually shut down by the Feds. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tracy enjoys movies about the Mafia, and a story from her own life is worthy of a scene in a mob film: a raid on her grandparents' house was foiled when her grandmother hid the "evidence" (the bookie's all-important record of bets) in her tomato sauce.
Tracy particularly enjoyed working on the interactive crime timeline, with its famous mob crimes. She once lived in Chelsea, rated 61st safest, while studying for her masters in design and technology at Parsons, but now lives beyond the New York City limits.
Orenthal V. Hawkins is the project manager and functional analyst for the Crime & Safety Report, which means he makes sure that the trains run on time.
Prior to this role, he was a technology consultant for Scholastic, Inc. Orenthal has more than a passing knowledge of some of the most changed neighborhoods featured in the Crime & Safety Report — he was born in Harlem, raised in Soundview, in the Bronx, and studied computer science at Fordham University, also in the Bronx.
He currently lives in central New Jersey, but his heart is forever tied to Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx's High Bridge neighborhood, which is ranked as the 39th safest neighborhood in the Crime & Safety Report.
Michele Rose is the technical lead on the Crime & Safety Report, coding the user interface and working with the editorial team and designer Tracy Prussin through many revisions of content and design. It has been a unique project in her five years of experience as a web developer. She's privileged to live in one of the top 10 safest neighborhoods of New York City, despite the long commute to work. Her neighborhood — Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — is ranked lucky number 7.
Daniel Boland is the web application developer for the Crime & Safety Report, which means he has designed the Pay Wall functionality and worked on the programming parts of the site, from the interactive timeline to the credit card processor.
Daniel's background is in front-end and back-end web development, using open source technologies. Daniel was born and raised in New Jersey, and currently enjoys a quick and cheap commute from Hoboken to Midtown Manhattan on the PATH.
Donna M. Airoldi is a contributing editor for DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, a project that has been a welcome departure from the travel and business articles she usually writes and edits, given her quasi-obsession with crime dramas and her one-time desire to be a medical examiner. Originally from Chicago, where she learned how to fight off sexual assaults and muggers, Donna is celebrating 20 years in New York City.
She moved here to start a masters degree in economics (hence her love of the number-crunching and statistical analysis for the Crime & Safety Report), tried art school and film school, and eventually found her calling as a writer. She fondly remembers her first New York neighborhood, the East Village (No. 58 in the report), where she had to climb over passed-out alcoholics and drug addicts to get into her apartment building. She then spent more than a decade in Chelsea (No. 61). A crack house ruled the corner down the street when she moved in. When she moved out, luxury shops and trendy restaurants were the norm. She now lives with her husband and cat in quiet Kensington, which is No. 3 in the city, and the safest neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Joanne Gerber has been an editor, writer, and researcher for more than 15 years. She has considerable experience with crime: not as a journalist, alas, but as a victim. This native New Yorker has survived two burglaries, one car theft, and six robberies, two of them muggings right in front of her apartment building in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Accustomed to working on articles about travel and luxury lifestyle, Joanne found the Crime & Safety Report to be a real departure, but a fascinating one. She helped to edit the content for all 69 neighborhoods, and also immersed herself in CompStat data — the crime statistics culled from the neighborhood police precincts. Going through the figures with a fine-toothed comb, she ensured that all the numbers in the interactive map and neighborhood pages were accurate down to the last decimal point.
Joanne still lives in Park Slope. Although it is a lovely neighborhood of tree-lined streets and brownstones, she was not too surprised to learn that "the Slope" rates a lackluster 41st safest of 69 neighborhoods.
Jon Schuppe is a reporter/producer for DNAinfo.com, and a contributor to the Crime & Safety Report.
Before joining DNAinfo.com, Jon was a crime reporter for the "Star-Ledger" in Newark, N.J., writing stories about street gangs, gun trafficking, drug dealing, juvenile criminals, corruption, and the effects of violence on urban communities. He was a member of the team of writers and editors awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for breaking-news coverage of Gov. Jim McGreevey's gay sex scandal and resignation. In 2008, Jon won the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting, a national honor given by the University of Colorado and the Denver Press Club. Jon's forthcoming book about Newark won the 2010 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, given by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, at Harvard University. Jon is a board member of Criminal Justice Journalists, an organization dedicated to improving media coverage of crime and justice.
Jon lives with his wife and daughter in Washington Heights, ranked the 24th safest neighborhood in New York.
Murray Weiss is an award-winning columnist for DNAinfo.com. For longer than he cares to admit, Murray has been reporting on people on both sides of the law, from top mob bosses and terrorists to the lawmen and women who hunt them down. Specializing in law enforcement and criminal justice, Murray spent years reporting on New York City from inside NYPD Headquarters, in lower Manhattan. Not surprisingly, it was Murray who obtained the comprehensive 2010 crime data that formed the bedrock of DNAinfo.com's unprecedented Crime & Safety Report.
His personal experience in covering and breaking front page news stories for several decades at two of the city's largest papers, the "New York Post" and the "New York Daily News", made him the perfect candidate for the job of compiling the New York mayhem captured in the crime timeline. When Murray started his career, he lived in a sixth-floor walk-up on the Upper East Side. Many people had the impression that he then moved into Elaine's restaurant, but that closed, and he has recently been spotted in Greenwich Village, undeterred by its ranking: 68th safest of 69.
John Doyle is a contributor to the Crime & Safety Report. As a reporter at the "New York Post" for six years, he covered more than his share of crime, spending countless days and nights in some of the darkest corners of the city, looking for a key witness, a talkative cop or a family member willing to share the story of their loved one's life.
Doyle's father was a cop in Brownsville's 73rd Precinct in the early '70s, and was on duty the night Patrolman Robert Denton was assassinated in the precinct in July, 1971. Doyle Sr. also walked a beat in Coney Island, the 60th Precinct, not far from where Doyle Jr. grew up. In addition to four years on the street for the "Post", Doyle spent a further two years shackled to a desk at police headquarters where he was under the tutelage of fellow DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report contributor, former "Post" bureau chief Murray Weiss.
While at the "Post", Doyle worked with Weiss on a story about the pending parole of Christopher Thomas, the man who murdered 10 people in East New York, Brooklyn, in what the police coined "the Palm Sunday Massacre."
Prior to his time at the "Post", John worked the crime beat at the "Brooklyn Eagle", where he wrote about the capture of gay bar mogul and fugitive killer Louis Katz in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and he spent another year reporting for a Bronx weekly newspaper. Doyle lives in Belle Harbor, Queens, ranked the 10th safest neighborhood in the city, according to the Crime & Safety Report.
Tom Liddy is a writer for DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report. In his seven years at the "New York Post" before coming to DNAinfo.com as a news editor, Tom covered a variety of crimes, including major stories such as the Imette St. Guillen murder and the Times Square machine-gun rampage.
While at the "Post", he also worked for the paper's police bureau, contributing to the "Blotter," which highlights major crimes in all of the city's neighborhoods, in addition to reporting on the day's crimes and crime patterns. Most recently, he was an associate metro editor.
Tom was intrigued by the Crime & Safety Report's comprehensive statistical analysis, and dove into writing about several neighborhoods in Queens, including Bellerose, on the borough's eastern edge, which he used to call home.
Tom currently lives in the Village, which is the 68th safest neighborhood in the city — second to last.
Dave Goldiner is a contributor to DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report. Goldiner is a seasoned journalist who has been spilling ink on two continents for more than 20 years. He spent 12 years on the "Daily News"'s rewrite desk and worked as an editor on the "News"'s city desk, directing a team of reporters.
Goldiner's career as a journalist started in the late 1980s in southern Africa. He worked at one of South Africa's largest newspapers, where he covered crime and township culture in the volatile years before the fall of Apartheid. He later became the managing editor at the "Riverdale Press", a Pulitzer Prize-winning community paper in the Bronx. He lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, with his 6-foot-3 inch son and their dog. The neighborhood ranked 42nd out of 69 neighborhoods in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report.
Shayna Jacobs took time off from her regular job as the court reporter for DNAinfo.com to shoot neighborhood photos in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens for the Crime & Safety Report, armed with a camera, two lenses and professional quantities of coffee. Shayna has been covering crime in Manhattan since the 2009 launch of DNAinfo.com, and has covered the city's biggest murder, rape and robbery cases in that time.
Tiphanie Colon-Lamontanaro took many of the neighborhood photographs for the DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report. Traveling through the outer boroughs with a precinct map and her camera was an education in itself, particularly when she saw firsthand the diversity of neighborhoods that just one borough could contain. It has definitely been one of the most interesting projects she has worked on in her career, and her favorite discovery is historic Richmond Town, in Staten Island.
Maria DiPaola is the HelpDesk Analyst for the DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report, which means she kept the equipment buzzing along for the duration of the project. Her background in customer service, sales and IT support honed her problem solving skills which were highly useful to the project, especially for keeping the rest of the team sane by keeping their software running and their printer jam free.
Prior to starting at DNAinfo.com, Maria worked for retailing giant IKEA and before that, studied at New York City's CUNY and Hunter College. She currently lives outside the city limits, however her sister resides in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge, ranked 7th safest neighborhood in the Crime & Safety Report, a fact that generates a high degree of sibling-related envy.
Copyright © 2009 - 2011 Digital Network Associates dba DNAinfo.com. All rights reserved.