2009-06-10 / Editorials

NYC Deserves 'Safest City' Ranking

As usually happens about this time of year, last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation, known familiarly by its initials of FBI, released its latest "Crime in the United States", the preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2008. The figures are encouraging: statistics for 2008, the latest available, indicate that for the third year in a row and the fourth year out of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure as the city's chief executive, New York City ranks as the safest big city in America. The report shows that violent crime decreased by four percent in New York City during 2008, outpacing a national decline.

The good news has continued into this year. According to NYPD Compstat data, crime is down an additional 12 percent citywide for the first five months of 2009 when compared to 2008 levels. This overall reduction includes a 21 percent drop in murders, a 17 percent drop in robberies and a 17 percent decrease in rape. In a news release last week, Bloomberg noted that the city has seen 43 fewer murders, 1,415 fewer robberies and 491 fewer cars stolen than at this same time a year ago.

The trend is several years long. The Uniform Crime Report showed that compared to 2006, the city experienced a 2.7 percent drop in overall crime in 2007. Murders in New York City declined 16.8 percent, while they fell 2.7 percent nationwide. According to the FBI report, violent crime in the city decreased 3.1 percent, outpacing a national drop of 1.4 percent. The 2006 report showed that in 2005, New York City's continued decline in violent crime defied a national trend, with overall Index Crime dropping by 5.3 percent, bringing the cumulative decrease from 2001 to 2005 to 22.1 percent.

The mayor takes justifiable pride in noting the numbers and does not hesitate to give full credit to the city's safety forces, most notably the Police Department under the leadership of Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "Using innovative policing strategies and a focus on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, we are continuing to do more with less, in spite of the economic downturn," Bloomberg declared in releasing the news of the 2008 report. He expressed similar sentiments in a meeting with the publisher of this newspaper late last month and continues, understandably, to stress the point.

The groundwork for the city's favorable ranking in the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 was laid in a previous decade and under a previous mayoral administration. When Rudolph Giuliani became mayor of New York City in 1994, the term "quality of life" when used in connection with New York City had highly unfavorable connotations. When Giuliani left office on Dec. 31, 2001, despite having endured the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the crash of Flight 587 off Belle Harbor with the loss of everyone on board little more than a month later, the prevailing mood at City Hall and in the streets was one of cautious but growing optimism. New York City was once again a place to visit, move to, live in and even enjoy.

When Bloomberg succeeded Giuliani, he, with Kelly, continued his predecessor's get-tough-on-crime stance. Their vision for New York City is fast becoming reality. The FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2008 is a soaring testament to the overwhelming success of their work.

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