The new year has gotten off to a somber start in Queens with homicides and pedestrian fatalities grabbing the headlines.
Murders have multiplied across the borough, from the killing of an off-duty corrections officer in Queens Village to the stabbing of a man in a Ridgewood cemetery to the heartbreaking deaths of a young mother and her two children in South Jamaica.
It’s been a bloody run for the first 3 1/2 weeks of 2014.
Through Jan. 21, nine people had become murder statistics in the borough.
And the number of residents run down in Queens has continued to mount even as Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Woodside last week to unveil his plan to make streets safer across the city. He has mounted a multi-agency effort to draw up a blueprint for eradicating traffic fatalities within 10 years.
This is a noble and necessary effort, but in the meantime Queens apparently has won the dubious distinction of having the most pedestrian traffic fatalities in the city.
Since early January, three pedestrians have lost their lives in Jamaica Hills, Maspeth and Bellerose.
De Blasio, elected in a landslide by New Yorkers yearning for change after 12 years of the Bloomberg administration, faces a crucial test.
Can the new man running the town keep violent crimes in check after his strong opposition to the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk and his selection of a police chief who has vowed to limit the controversial practice?
Queens in 2013 was the safest year during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure, with only 56 murders committed.
Some constituents in the borough are waiting in the wings to pounce on the surge in murders as proof that stop-and-frisk is an essential policing tool.
But it’s far too early to make that call. Four of the homicides appear to be domestic violence cases and de Blasio is in the early stages of trying to mend frayed relationships between police and the community.
Let’s give him a chance. During his visit to Woodside, he contrasted the city’s record low 333 murders last year to the startlingly high 286 traffic deaths that occurred during the same span.
De Blasio must act quickly and decisively to curb the violence in the streets and on the roads so he can move ahead with his ambitious agenda for the city.