Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is focusing on the positive as the year comes to a close. With the police and fire commissioners at his side, Bloomberg announced the city is on track to record just over 500 murders for 2011.
That’s a drop of between 4 and 5 percent from last year, which had 536 homicides.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the crime dip was a result of good police work and technological improvements at the NYPD.
When Kelly was asked if there were any trends in regards to homicides from the year before, he said there was an uptick of murders related to domestic violence. There were 85 (in the murders where the motive has been determined). That’s an increase of 12 percent from last year.
Mayor Bloomberg happily noted that city budget cuts haven’t resulted in more murders or fire deaths. “Even though we're going through tough times and are doing more with less, something that we’re going through in 2012 as well, we've always found a way to make our city safer and we're going to continue to do that.”
While major felonies dropped overall for 21 years in a row, some categories showed increases, including robbery, felony assault, grand larceny and rape, which is up a little more than three percent compared to last year.
Commissioner Kelly attributed the increase in rape to more reporting.
“To a certain extent, our work with the advocates, I think has brought about a greater willingness to come forward, "he said. "All of our sex crimes are investigated by our special victims unit. It's manpower intensive, but I think that the type of work that we’re doing is increasing victim’s willingness to come forward.”
There were 1,402 rapes on record this year compared with 1,355 in 2010. These statistics also included attempted attacks.
Kelly added that felony assault numbers are also up slightly because of a new state law that reclassifies second degree strangulation from a misdemeanor to a felony.
As for fire safety, the number of civilian fatalities stands at 64 so far this year, just two more than last year's record low of 62.
Fire Commissioner Salvatore Casssano said there were fewer structural and "serious" fires this year, the result, he believes, of aggressive fire prevention and education efforts.