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NEW YORK: The number of murders in New York this year fell to its lowest point in 50 years, mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Friday — a bit of good news as the United States tries to combat rampant gun violence.
Crime rates and gun laws across the country have been in the spotlight since the December 14 slaying of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut by a 20-year-old man who also killed his mother and eventually himself.
Bloomberg, a long-time advocate of stricter firearms regulations, hailed the new record lows for both homicides and shootings in the Big Apple, saying that the figures meant New York was far safer than other major US cities.
“The number of murders this year will be lower than any time in recorded city history,” Bloomberg said, hailing the work of the New York Police Department (NYPD) to stop crime in a city of 8.2 million people. “It also reflects our commitment to doing everything possible to stop gun violence,” he said.
A total of 414 homicides occurred in 2012, down from 515 last year, or about a 19 percent decrease, the mayor said at a graduation ceremony for new police recruits. That was the lowest figure since data collection began in 1963.
“The previous low in modern times was 471 murders back in 2009. So it’s pretty clear we are going to shatter this record and shatter it by a lot,” Bloomberg said. Murders are down 35 percent since he took office in 2002.
“With the decrease in murder, New York’s murder rate has fallen to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 residents. New York City has a far lower murder rate than other major American cities. “If we had had (Washington) DC’s murder rate, more than 1,100 would be murdered this year,” he noted.