NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York likes to call itself the safest big city America, but now disturbing new crime numbers have the NYPD taking action.

In the months of January and February, New York City had an eight percent drop in crime year-over-year.

That’s beating their own records for crime reduction however, troubling trends are developing in the fight against violent crime.

The NYPD says despite crime still plunging to historic lows, they have serious concerns about the increase in murders. According to the department’s CompStat records through February, the murder rate for this year is now up by more than 36 percent compared to 2018.

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“Murders in February were up 24 versus 16. Brooklyn’s increase drove the February murder violence accounting for half of the city’s murders, reporting 12 versus 5 in the same period of last year,” NYPD Deputy Chief Lori Pollock said.

The department says many clusters of violence are driven by gang activity and gun violence. They say they are taking aggressive action, adding additional officers to four precincts of particular concern.

“Our approach to spikes in murders, shootings, and other crimes must constantly be adjusted as circumstances dictate,” NYPD commissioner James O’Neill said.

That reportedly includes an attempt to strengthen gun prosecutions in Brooklyn. The district attorney wants the process sped up.

“It takes us way too long to get these cases before the judge because we need accountability on the front end of the process,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez explained.

This month also saw a rise in rapes, and overall this year, they’re up by nearly 19 percent over last year.

“February saw an increase as has been the trend, 133 to 122 however, the increase is nine percent this month as opposed to the 30 percent increase we saw last February,” Deputy Chief Pollock added.

The mayor argued that the crime numbers have to be judged over time.

“Five straight years of crime going down and two years we’ve had under 300 homicides which hasn’t happened since the 1950s. I’m still confident that the NYPD will keep driving down crime,” Mayor de Blasio declared.

The NYPD says, despite the surge in violent crimes, there were still some very positive numbers this month.

The department says this February saw under 900 robberies reported, a record low for any month. There was also under 800 burglaries, also a record low for any month. Car theft are also reportedly at a new low.