Murder rates in New York City have fallen to historic lows, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this week. So far, 2013 has seen just 332 murders, a 20 percent drop from 2012’s 419. That's fewer than one a day in a city of 8 million.
When New York City introduced accurate record-keeping in 1963, citywide homicides for that year stood at 548. By the height of the crack epidemic in 1990, murders peaked at 2,245. Now, for the first time, murders in New York City have fallen below an average of one per day, for which Bloomberg credited the police department at an NYPD graduation over the weekend.
“Twelve years ago, no one thought New York’s crime rate could go any lower. But it did: Since 2001, crime has gone down by 32 percent and in a city of 8.4 million people, there have been fewer than 350 homicides, and that is largely due to the work of the fine men and women you are about to join,” Bloomberg said.
While murders have continued falling across New York City, some other crimes are on the rise again. Rape and robberies are down 5 percent, but serious assault and nonviolent thefts have increased 3 and 5 percent in 2013, the New York Times reports, largely due to the rise of smartphone theft.
While Bloomberg credits the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program for the murder rate’s sharp decline, several other high-crime cities like Chicago and Los Angeles have also seen similar drops in murders this year. Chicago, the New York Times points out, also experienced its lowest murder rate since the 1960s this year. Additionally, stop-and-frisk encounters actually decreased by 60 percent in 2013, and NYPD officers have seized 11 percent fewer guns this year.
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That all stands as good news for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who will be sworn in by former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday. De Blasio and his once and future police commissioner, William J. Bratton, have promised to rein in stop-and-frisk policies once they take office.