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The New York Times has an article that takes a look at the continuing declines in New York City's murder rate over the past few years. I think understanding this is, among other things, an important part of how we understand Rudy Giuliani's legacy. Before 9/11, of course, his signature accomplishment was his association with the massive crime drop the city experienced during the 1990s, a tumbling in the murder rate that was paralleled in most other major American cities, but that happened to a much greater extent in New York than elsewhere.

Giuliani and his supporters would tend to argue that certain apparent black marks on his administration's record -- Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Rudy's generally horrible relationship with the African-American community -- were all just part of the price you had to pay for his super-effective anti-crime measures. But then Bloomberg came into office, kept much of the same policy framework in place, but went out of his way to try to be a bridge-builder who got along with all sorts of people. And the poof is in the pudding -- this works just fine. Nothing about sound crime control policy required Giuliani to be acting like a jerk or a madman, he just did that stuff because that's who he is.

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