From The Mayor’s Desk ...
I recently went to Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx where Romeo Baloy, a highly decorated police detective, was rushed with wounds he had received while trying to arrest a man who was carrying a gun. The suspect had fled into a nearby building and ambushed the detective when he tried to follow. In self-defense, Baloy returned fire. The suspect was killed, but the detective escaped with his life.
Detective Baloy’s courage and com-posure during those frantic moments were truly inspiring, but not surprising. We’ve seen this heroism time and time again from New York’s Finest. And because of their bravery and professionalism, the NYPD continues to make our city safer each year. Accord-ing to a recent FBI report, New York City again leads the country in reducing crime. In fact, among the nation’s 25 largest cities, it’s New York that has the lowest crime rate. And of the 217 cities with populations greater than 100,000, New York ranks safer than 202 of them.
Crime is down in virtually every category and in virtually everyneighborhood of our city. Over the last three years, it’s down in our homes, on our streets, our subways, and our housing developments. With less than two weeks remaining in 2004, statistics show that we have reduced crime nearly 5 percent citywide this year, and 15 percent over the past three years. This year, New York also is on course to have the fewest number of murders since 1963. In the Bronx alone, there has been nearly a 35 percent decrease in murders over the past three years.
What’s behind this success? A number of things. But the underlying factor is a sharper, more aggressive focus by the NYPD on the neighborhoods hit hardest by crime, and the criminals who pose the greatest threats. Through initiatives like Operation Impact, which concentrates on areas where high crime rates have persisted…and Operation Clean Sweep, which addresses the quality of life offenses that can create an environment for more serious crime…our Administration’s strategy of focusing on problem people and problem places is benefiting all New Yorkers.
These achievements are all the more impressive given that attrition has reduced the number of officers on the street by 3,000, and that during this period, the NYPD has also taken on major new responsibilities in the fields of intelligence counter-terrorism.
Because we’re continuing to drive down crime, our communities are be-coming more livable and more attractive to businesses. New York remains a destination for the world’s most talented and ambitious people. That’s why we haven’t seen the business exodus that many predicted after 9/11. Instead, businesses – large and small – are renewing their commitment to our city. As a result, unemployment is the lowest it has been in nearly four years, and almost 40,000 more New Yorkers have private sector jobs than did 12 months ago. The city’s unemployment rate is now as low as the national rate for the first time since 1988.
Fighting crime has been, and will be, the key to New York’s long-range recovery. We’re proud to be the un-disputed safest big city in the nation. And as long as I’m mayor, it’s a title we intend to keep.