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In late 2014 and early 2015, escalating tensions in New York City led to the NYPD staging a slowdown in which the department performed only its most essential duties.

That might be expected to lead to an increase in crime, but a new analysis of official statistics shows the opposite: a significant drop in major crime for the period of the slowdown. Researchers are now arguing about what this tells us.
The slowdown developed in response to a sequence of events following the death of Eric Garner in July 2014, who died when placed in a chokehold by the police officers who were arresting him.

This led to extensive protests, which continued after the decision of a grand jury not to indict the officers involved in Garner’s death.

Two weeks after that ruling, NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally shot by an anti-police extremist, and the NYPD responded by informally and collectively stepping back their policing to the bare minimum.
This included fewer tickets and a huge drop in arrests.

The action was partly attributed to precautionary measures, but there were also political motivations: “The act was a symbolic show of strength to demonstrate the city’s dependence on the NYPD,” write criminologists Christopher M.
Sullivan and Zachary P. O’Keeffe in a paper in Nature Human Behaviour this week.
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