New York on track to record lowest homicide rate in decades

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New York City is on the verge of recording its lowest murder total in decades. With a reduction in major crimes across the board – according to police department statistics – the homicide rate has dropped correspondingly.

According to NYPD records, the number of felony assaults, burglaries and auto theft cases in the city have decreased when compared with last year, and robberies have dropped by a full 10%. As for homicides, as of December 17, there have been 278 in 2017. At the same point last year, there were 325, revealing a decline in homicides year over year of 14.5%.

“We’ve seen the lowest number of index crimes here since the ’50s,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a news conference. “With informed, engaged and empowered communities, we’re going to keep pushing those numbers down even further.”

O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio say a focus on neighborhood policing has led to the reduction in crime and homicide, citing an NYPD strategy implemented in 2015.

“We are giving our cops the opportunity to make relationships and build on those relationships,” O’Neill said this month. “Nobody knows what’s going on better on a block than the people that live there, the people that worship there, the people that work there.”

O’Neill says a neighborhood policing model includes two “neighborhood coordination officers” in each precinct, plus 12 “sector” officers, who work regularly in the same precinct, so they get to know the communities.

“We’re giving them back the ability to make decisions,” O’Neill said. “No one knows better than the people patrolling those sectors and the people that live what’s actually happening.”

O’Neill also cited a focus on stopping gang violence as a reason for improved crime statistics. Precinct detectives work in conjunction with officers in vice crimes, narcotics and gun violence, in order to reduce gang activity.

“We’re also continuing to target gangs and crews who commit the majority of the violence in New York City,” O’Neill said. “I think that, in conjunction with neighborhood policing, that’s why you’re seeing the crime numbers go down.”

The lower murder rate is much reduced, considering that in the early 1990s, there were over 2,000 killings annually, according to police figures provided to CNN.

As the police say they will continue to work toward reducing homicides and crime even further, they are proud of another statistic. According to Det. Sophia Mason, police only fired their guns in 23 incidents as of December 17. In 2016, police weapons were fired during 37 incidents, CNN reports.

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