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Queens Chronicle

Top cop has the right stuff, New Yorkers say

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Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:30 am

New Yorkers want to have their low-crime cake and eat it too.

That’s one conclusion to be drawn from the latest Quinnipiac University Poll that focused on the city, which found that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is enjoying his highest job approval rating ever, even as one of his signature tactics — stop, question and frisk — is getting bad press and facing a hostile judge who’s reining in its use.

Voters approve of Kelly’s job performance by a margin of 75-18, the survey found. And they approve of the work New York’s Finest are doing by a similar 70-23 percent. That’s the NYPD’s highest approval rating since February 2002, just a few months after the 9/11 atrocities.

“Perhaps because of the Newtown massacre or because of the recent announcement that murder in the Big Apple is at an all-time low, or both, New York City voters like their top cop and all their cops even more,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in releasing the poll results last week.

The city saw fewer than 420 homicides in 2012, the lowest number since it began keeping reliable statistics. (Some in the tinfoil hat crowd dispute the figure, claiming the police hide homicides — how?? — but that’s what the tinfoil hat crowd does.)

Remember that back in 1992, the worst year for killings here, there were either 2,245 or 2,262, depending on your source. And that if we had Chicago’s murder rate, the number last year would have been four times higher than it was.

Kelly would tell you that one of the key reasons the homicide rate is so low is the stop, question and frisk tactic — as he did when he sat down with the Queens Chronicle editorial board last year. But although three out of four Quinnipiac Poll respondents like the job the commissioner’s doing, they split nearly evenly on what’s commonly just called stop and frisk, with 50 percent disapproving compared to 46 percent approving.

It’s no surprise that there’s a sizeable ethnic gap when it comes to stop and frisk. White voters approve of it 56-39, the survey said. Hispanics disapprove it 54-42, while blacks — many of whom say they are unfairly targeted by the tactic — give it a thumbs down 68-27.

And yet even the black community gives Kelly a positive rating, approving of his work 56-37, compared to 67-23 among Hispanics and 81-14 among whites.

The main point of stop and frisk is gun control, getting them off the streets by confiscating them or convincing crooks they shouldn’t carry them in the first place because they could be searched. And when it comes to the types of laws most people think of when one says “gun control,” New Yorkers are strongly supportive. By a margin of 80-17, they favor a nationwide ban on assault weapons. And 78 percent back stricter state gun control laws — which the governor and Legislature just delivered — compared to 4 percent who want them loosened up and 16 percent who would keep the status quo.

The poll didn’t only look at law and order issues. It also asked respondents to rate Mayor Bloomberg, who’s just entered the final year of his three terms.

The mayor, so fond of grading the schools he was granted control of, was given letter grades just like they get, with most voters saying he’s done well.

A plurality of 38 percent gave the mayor a B. He got an A from 21 percent, while 20 percent gave him a C, 9 percent gave him a D and 11 percent gave him an F. (Is it possible that 11 percent of residents smoke, drink big sodas, eat fatty foods and have been ticketed for putting their feet up on empty subway trains? Naah, that can’t be it.)

The race for mayor

The day before Quinnipiac released that poll, it put out another one that found that Democratic City Council Speaker Christine Quinn remains the front runner in the race to succeed Bloomberg. Her most likely Republican opponent will be former deputy mayor and MTA chairman Joe Lhota.

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