National Affairs: Senseless

U.S. crime reporters usually have cliches to explain everything—or almost everything.

On a muggy night last week, two detectives walked out of their precinct station across from Louis Sobel Park in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. One of the plainclothesmen had worked the district for 31 years. He remembered when it was a "real swell" neighborhood. Now it is seedy. Not a slum, not by any definition the worst part of New York, but a down-at-heels place where respectable people, said the policeman, are not safe outdoors at night.

One of the cases on...

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