For the second consecutive year, New York is “the undisputed safest large city in the nation,” says Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The New York Times says that New York has the lowest overall crime rate among cities with more than one million people, according to the preliminary Uniform Crime Report compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the first half of 2003.
Serious crime dropped 7.4 percent in New York City compared with 3.1 percent in the nation as a whole. The murder total was up slightly in New York, as it was nationwide, but the city’s rate was still far below its peak in 1990. The city’s crime index, a figure adjusted for population, is on par with much smaller cities and ranks 194th out of 200 cities with more than 100,000 residents.
The mayor asserted that a resurgence in the economy and tourism was a result of the falling crime rates. He listed Police Department programs that responded to petty crimes and noise, as well as antigun initiatives and several programs that use courts and city agencies to focus on certain crimes and repeat offenders.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, said his department had helped reduce crime with 4,000 fewer officers than it had three years ago, and with 1,000 of the current 36,000 officers assigned to counterterrorism. He cited programs like Operation Impact, which floods small problem areas with patrol and anticrime officers.
Kelly cited the price of the crime reduction, including the deaths of two detectives shot during an undercover drug operation in March, and five other officers shot in the line of duty this year. For the mayor, the continuing decline in crime will likely be a major part of his platform as he runs for re-election.
Most of the decrease in New York came from a drop in property crimes – violent crime dropped only 3.3 percent. From January through the end of last week, murders were up 2.3 percent, compared with the same period last year. Still, city officials expect the number of murders to be under 600 for the second year in a row.
The F.B.I. numbers cited one more category of crime resistant to the overall downward trend – car thefts went up 0.9 percent. In New York City, however, car thefts were down 12.5 percent through last week.