NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In his State of the NYPD address Wednesday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly credited “proactive policing strategies” with keeping the murder rate in New York lower than that of any other major city, as well as preventing terrorist attacks.
Kelly delivered the address to the Police Foundation on Wednesday morning at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He noted that New York City has five murders for every 100,000 people per year – compared with 54 murders per 100,000 people in Detroit, 22 in Philadelphia, and 19 in Chicago.
“If we had Detroit’s murder rate, instead of experiencing just over 400 murders last year, New York City would have experienced 4,400,” Kelly said.
But New York City instead saw a record low in the homicide rate last year. In addition, Kelly said, overall crime has dropped 32 percent compared with 2001, all despite a reduction in the police force by 6,000 officers compared with 11 years ago, and an increase in the city’s population by nearly 200,000 people.
Specific policing strategies should be credited for the dramatic reduction, Kelly said. In particular, 8,000 weapons have come off the street – 800 of them illegal handguns – since 2002.
The NYPD has also set up vertical patrols of stairwells and a monitoring system, and has conducted high-profile gang busts, in public housing developments — which account for 20 percent of the city’s crime. Since 2002, crime in public housing has dropped by 54 percent, Kelly said.
Police have also launched an initiative to stop juvenile suspects from becoming repeat offenders through the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program, Kelly said. Under the program, police visit a juvenile offender’s home and explain the serious of the charges to his or her parents, while providing references to social service agencies and follow-up visits afterward.
“The goal is to reduce the recidivism rate and steer these young people toward a more productive path,” Kelly said. “And it’s worked.”
Kelly also credited “proactive policing” with keeping New York City safe from terrorist plots in all the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He noted that would-be terrorists have targeted bridges, tunnels, subways, returning U.S. troops and airports, but have been consistently unsuccessful – a fact for which he credited the NYPD.
In particular, Kelly highlighted the case last fall of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, who was caught in a sting operation plotting to detonate a bomb in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street. He also noted the arrests of Rees Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, who were picked up in Florida in a plot to bomb Times Square, Wall Street and local movie theaters.
“These cases offer further evidence of what we’re up against: terrorists who make no apologies for trying to kill as many New Yorkers as possible to avenge what they perceive as American responsibility for Muslim deaths abroad,” Kelly said. “The only way to stop such individuals is through intelligence gathering. That’s why it’s essential that the Police Department’s efforts to defend against terrorism be proactive and that we find those who are in the earliest stages of planning violent acts.”
In his address, Kelly also emphasized the technology the NYPD has implemented to fight crime. Nearly 3,500 cameras have been mounted and networked together through the Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, and the Department of Homeland Security has given the NYPD 2,600 radiation detectors that are now used by officers on patrol, Kelly said.
Through a partnership with Microsoft, NYPD has also developed the Domain Awareness System, allowing officers to compile data from multiple sources on a single computer dashboard, and thus easier analyze threats and criminal activity.
“We can also search the network using specific criteria, say, a description of a man wearing a yellow jacket in lower Manhattan. We enter those facts and immediately receive images from several different cameras going back 30 days. We can choose the image that best fits the description and instantly view all of the recorded video associated with it,” Kelly explained. “We can do all of this and much more, all from a desktop. This capacity doesn’t exist anywhere else in law enforcement.”
Overall, Kelly said, the city has grown safer, and relations between police officers and civilians have improved.
“A poll released last week by Quinnipiac University shows that 70 percent of New Yorkers surveyed approve of the job police are doing, the highest level of public approval they’ve received since the months after 9/11,” Kelly said. “With your help, we’ll see to it that the foundation of security we’ve laid in New York stays strong.”
Do you agree with Kelly’s reasoning for the drop in crime? Leave your comments below…