Why is NYC violence rate lower than other U.S. cities?

(CBS News) NEW ORLEANS - In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered a flood of cops into the city's most violent neighborhoods Thursday. There have been seven shootings since Wednesday night. But it was the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, just a mile from President Obama's Chicago home, that prompted the crackdown.

So far this month, there have been 42 shooting deaths in Chicago -- but that is three times as many as in New York City. CBS News senior correspondent John Miller is a former deputy commissioner of the New York City Police Department. He spoke to "Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley from New Orleans about the difference in tackling violent crime between New York and other cities. A transcript of the conversation follows.

New Orleans beefs up security on eve of Super Bowl
Chicago Police shifts cops from desks to streets amid spike in murders
Chicago mom loses all four children to gun violence

Pelley: John, why is New York City enjoying record-low violence, when the violence is so high in other cities like Chicago, Philadelphia or New Orleans?

Miller: Well, you look at New Orleans. There's a celebration going around here. But part of the reality is this is one of the cities that leads the nation in murders. And the disparity -- according to a police executive research forum study that brought all the police chiefs together --  was it's what happens to the arrests after they get to court.

Now take New York. They have a three- to five-year mandatory minimum. That means if that gun charge ends up in front of a judge, you're almost certain to go to jail for three years. In Chicago, you've got a 50-50 chance that you're not going to do any jail time almost -- 33 percent of those cases are dismissed outright.

Pelley: So if you're caught with a gun in New York, whether you have used it in a crime or not, you're going to jail for three to five years. But not in Chicago?

Miller: But not in Chicago and not in most cities because they don't have those mandatory minimums, and the prosecutors and the judges exercise that discretion. The bottom line is if you're a criminal thinking, "Do I take that gun when I leave the house today or not?", the risk factor in a lot of major cities is pretty low -- that even if you're caught, you're going to do time in jail.

  • John Miller

    John Miller is a senior correspondent for CBS News, with extensive experience in intelligence, law enforcement and journalism, including stints in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI.