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NYC homicide stats comparable to ’60s; other crimes down as well

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, left, and New York

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, left, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, speak to one another during a news conference at police headquarters in Manhattan on June 2, 2016. Credit: Charles Eckert

New York City finished 2016 tied for its second lowest number of homicides in the modern era of record keeping, driving the city’s rate for each 100,000 residents to the lowest level among major U.S. cities except San Diego.

The city also dipped to its lowest level in living memory of shootings and total serious crimes, statistics that are scheduled to be detailed Wednesday in a special news conference by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Brooklyn Museum.

NYPD figures show 335 killings last year, down from 352 in 2015. The fewest killings were in 2014, with 333; 2013 also recorded 335 homicides. The 2016 number is preliminary and might be adjusted upward if certain cases are reclassified as homicides.

Total shootings, defined as discharge of a gun in which someone is injured, totaled 998, down from more than 1,100 in the prior year. Overall serious felonies, such as murder, robbery and felonious assault, totaled about 101,500, according to preliminary data, compared with more than 104,000 in 2015.

The results had been expected by city officials for some time, and contrast with the bloodshed experienced by Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, which recorded 762 homicides and 3,550 shootings. The killings in Chicago and the number of people wounded in the shootings prompted President-elect Donald Trump to tweet this week that the city best get its house in order or get federal help.

“Chicago murder rate is record setting — 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s remarks prompted Richard Aborn, head of the New York’s nonprofit Citizens Crime Commission, to say Trump should look at New York City for guidance.

“The President-elect should look no further than his own backyard to see what successful 21st century crime fighting looks like. New York City is leading the way in reducing violent crime among all major cities while restoring public trust in law enforcement with targeted enforcement,” Aborn said.

Since hitting a record high of 2,245 homicides in 1989, New York City killings have declined markedly and are comparable to what the city experienced in the 1960s, when record keeping differed from the CompStat method initiated in 1994 by then-commissioner William Bratton.

Based on 2015 Census Bureau population estimates for the cities and the most recent homicide statistics available, New York recorded a homicide rate of 3.91 for each 100,000 residents; Los Angeles a rate of 7.25; and Chicago a rate of 28.0. Houston recorded a rate of 13.15 per 100,000; and Philadelphia a rate of 17.61. Current statistics for Phoenix and Dallas weren’t available, but even part year homicide numbers show rates higher than New York City.

San Diego officials couldn’t be reached for comment but police data through September showed 41 homicides for a city of 1.4 million. That translates into a rate of 2.92 for that period.

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