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NYC Homicides, Shootings Likely to Hit Record Low

New York City expects to record all-time lows in 2012 for fewest number of homicides and the fewest number of shootings, officials said Friday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the city had 414 homicides though Thursday and 1,353 shootings through Dec. 23.

"The fact that the safest big city in America is safer than ever is a testament to the hard work and determination of the men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day -- and it also reflects our commitment to doing everything possible to stop gun violence," Bloomberg said Friday in acknowledging the numbers at the Police Department Recruit Graduation Ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Kelly said police statistics show the department is reducing the number of weapons in the city annually by about 8,000, including 800 illegal handguns, according to a news release by the NYPD.

"We're preventing crimes before someone is killed and before someone else has to go to prison for murder or other serious crimes," Kelly said. "We're also forging new alliances with advocates for public safety in every corner of the city."

The previous record lows for both homicides and shootings was in 2009, with 471 and 1,420 respectively.

Annual statistical data for shootings was first recorded with the introduction of the NYPD's Compstat crime reporting system in 1994.

Comparable homicide statistics date to 1963, when the city recorded 548 homicides. The most homicides New York City recorded in a single year was 2,245 s in 1990 -- an average of six a day. Today, New York City averages closer to one homicide a day -- even though the city's population has grown by roughly a million people since 1990.

Guns remained the leading cause of homicide in New York City again this year. Of the 414 homicides so far, 237 were by firearms. This is 61 fewer gun-related homicides than last year, a decrease of 20 percent. In 2001, there were 371 gun-related homicides, 36 percent more than this year.

By contrast, Chicago on Thursday logged its 500th homicide of 2012, The Associated Press reported. The last time the New York City reached the 500-homicide mark was in 2008, when the year ended with 512 killings. Last year, records show Chicago had 435 homicides.

If New York City had Chicago's homicide rate, New York City would have a total of more than 1,400 homicides this year, according to the NYPD.

Copyright 2012 - Newsday

McClatchy-Tribune News Service