Bloomberg and Kelly tout a reduction in murders in 2011

Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly. ()
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that New York City will record fewer than 600 murders for the year, making 2011 the tenth consecutive year that will have been the case.

Speaking at a press conference in City Hall at which he announced year-end crime and safety figures, Bloomberg said the city is expecting to end the year with just over 500 murders, a four- to five-percent drop from the year before.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, appearing with Bloomberg, chalked it up to the department's tactics.

"Through the use of innovations and being proactive, such as Operation Impact to the use of technology such as our real-time crime center, we have continued to suppress crime," he said.

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Although murders were down, city officials said there was an uptick in the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported. Bloomberg said that had a lot to do with a greater willingness by victims to report such crimes.

"Underlying, it does not seem that there's any great increase," he said, adding that " most of it is probably a reporting thing."

Kelly reinforced the point: "Our work with the advocates has brought about a greater willingness to come forward."

I asked Kelly about the NYPD's use of the stop-and-frisk technique, and how important it's been in reducing crime. It's a technique that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stinger and others have criticized as unconstitutional because it so often targets black and Latino men.

"I think if you look at all of our strategies, if you look Operation Impact, if you look at the real-time crime center, look at our use of technology, look at our policy of engagement, it all works," Kelly said. "You don't have a reduction in crime with 6,000 fewer police officers unless you're proactive."

Kelly also said that if you "look across the board at our strategies and you look at the results, it's fair to say our approach is working."

During an earlier part of the press conference, Kelly referred to a recently published book by criminologist Frank Zimring, who said the crime reduction in New York City over the past decade was a Guinness Book of World Records-worthy achievement.

When asked by another reporter whether there were any broader social factors that contributed to the crime trend, Bloomberg said it was unlikely.

"While there's no question that there are a lot of people not sharing in the great American dream, I don't think there's any real evidence that that leads to more crime or less crime," he said. "You go back and try to correlate crime with the economy or with the stock market, the correlation is just not there."