Magazine article Newsweek International

Bobbies Calling NYPD

Magazine article Newsweek International

Bobbies Calling NYPD

Article excerpt

When the two young men reached through the open window of Liza Minnelli's Mercedes-Benz and tried to snatch her jewel-encrusted necklace in London last month, the honeymooning star put on a brave face. "I am a New Yorker, after all," she reminded reporters after the incident.

Londoners might once have chuckled, but these days the quip landed a little flat. The city that has long epitomized law and order is struggling to come to terms with a sharp rise in street crime, including a 45 percent jump in robberies over the past two years. That makes it hard to regard New York as the reeling, anarchic city of yore, if only because of Londoners' grim awareness that Minnelli's experience with robbery was shared by 53,000 of their own last year. By contrast, there were only 28,000 robberies in New York, prompting many to ask: is it time to take a crimefighting lesson from the Big Apple?

In a land where the amiable bobby is the stuff of tourist legend, that might seem odd. But so it is. In January the Labour government's Home secretary, David Blunkett, invited former New York police commissioner Bill Bratton to a meeting of the nation's top police officers. Since Bratton's fabled tenure as Mayor Rudy Giuliani's crimefighter in chief, from 1994 to 1996, robberies have dropped 67 percent, homicides nearly 80 percent. Prime Minister Tony Blair, no doubt, would love a success like that. Not to be outdone, the Conservative Party sent its own man off to New York, suggesting that Britain should adopt the NYPD's so- called broken-windows approach to policing, whereby even petty crimes are vigorously prosecuted to send a deterrent message. …

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