NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In his final days in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted a historic drop in crime in the city.

According to the mayor, policing is a huge part of the equation. But he also pointed to a significant drop in the incarceration rate.

“Between 2001 and 2012, the incarceration rate across this country rose by 3 percent. During those same years, the incarceration rate of New York City residents fell by 36 percent,” said Bloomberg. “We’ve kept our safer is the bottom line while locking up fewer people.”

The mayor announced the figures at a probation office in South Jamaica, Queens on Thursday.

“I just want to do better, take care of my family and show people that it’s easy, they could do it too,” former inmate Michael Smith told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “I made something of myself, I accomplished a lot, I’m glad I joined this program because it changed my life a lot.”

Under the city’s Young Men’s Initiative, a program that moved probation officers away from courthouses and into neighborhood locations has further proven successful, according to the mayor.

The Neighborhood Opportunity Networks, or NeONs, link those on probation with community-based programs.

The re-arrest rate for NeON probationers 16-24 years old is nearly 23 percent lower than it is for probationers that age range who aren’t in NeON, according to the city.

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