NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg is closing out 2011 by touting how safe the Big Apple is, announcing near record safety levels were maintained in this year.
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It’s the 10th consecutive year the city has seen fewer than 600 murders in a year since 1960. There were just over 500 this year.
“We have reduced murders by between 4 and 5 percent this year compared to last,” said Bloomberg.
Fire deaths are also at an all-time low, with 64 this year.
The mayor attributes these numbers to policing, better use of technology, and improvements in police and fire response time.
These trends have continued for the past decade and they are surprising enough for one expert in law enforcement, quoted today by police commissioner Ray Kelly, to deem New York City’s drop in crime “worthy of Guinness book record.
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Sex assaults, rapes, and domestic violence, however, are on the rise.
“We see an increase in rape. We see an increase in sexual assault,” said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. “Obviously it’s something we are concerned about.”
So far this year, 1,380 rapes have been reported, which is a a 3-percent increase over last year. And just over 3,000 misdeameanor sex crimes have been logged, a 4-percent increase.
Incidents of domestic violence are higher as well. Mayor Bloomberg calls the numbers disturbing but says they may also be somewhat deceiving.
“When you work with the advocates and they try to get the message out that if you are a victim you shouldn’t be afraid to report it, that’s going to get you higher numbers. It doesn’t necesarily mean there is greater incidents of sexual crimes,” the mayor said.
“To a certain extent, our work with the advocates, I think, has brought about a greater willingness to come forward,” said Kelly.
Ariel Zwang with Safe Horizons, a women’s advocacy group, tells CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown that any increase is alarming.
“The thing about under-reporting is no one can ever really know. We really can’t know. We do know though that people attach an enormous amount of shame and embarrassment when they are the victims of this type of crime,” she said.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control found that one in five women in the U.S. has been raped.
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