New York City homicides are down more than 5 percent as the year draws to a close, continuing a 14-year decline that has confounded experts, says the New York Times. Five of the other six major crime categories have also dropped. As of Dec. 23, there had been 549 slayings in the city, down from 579 in the same period last year and from 2,245 in all of 1990, at the height of the crack epidemic. Last year, 597 people were slain in the city.
A few large cities have done better, notably Chicago, with a 25 percent decrease in homicides. In the first six months of the year, cities with populations over a million drove their homicide rate down an average of 8.7 percent. Experts say that those cities, many of which have adopted New York’s crime-fighting strategies, are playing catch-up. “When you lose weight, it’s always easier to lose the first pounds than the latter pounds,” said Eli Silverman of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “What other cities have done is quite remarkable, but on the other hand it has to be taken into consideration where they were before. The fact that New York still went down is even more remarkable.” In the 10 largest cities, the homicide rate (the number of murders per 100,000 people each year) was 12.4, according to the F.B.I.’s most recent data. In New York, it was 6.8. New York Police Commissioner Raymond attributes much of the homicide decline to the increasingly precise deployment of resources.