Figueroa-Levin: NYC overcoming its deadly reputation
When I was in fourth grade, our class had pen pals with a fourth-grade class in rural Ohio. Every week, I would write to the Ohio girl I had been paired with (people wrote letters back then) and she would write one to me.
Apparently, she was impressed that I lived in New York City and had an avalanche of questions about life here. She posed questions such as, "Are there crazy people?" and "Have you ever seen someone get shot?" and "What is it like getting mugged?"
That's when I realized that New York City had a bad reputation -- bad enough that a 9-year-old girl from South Nowhere, Ohio, thought to ask about it.
We've come a long way.
In 1990 the city recorded 2,245 homicides. By comparison, there were 983 in 1996, when I was in fourth grade. In 2012, there were 214. For the week of Oct. 7-13, there were zero, the NYPD said.
Congratulations New York City. Not a single person was murdered in that week. Well done.
This weekend, however, when at least five people were killed in our city between Friday night and Saturday. The homicides underscore the challenges the NYPD still faces.
Still, if the overall downward trend continues, we may end up with the fewest homicides in years.
So how do we maintain that trend? It's become cliche, but really, if you see something, say something. One way we can continue to keep our city safe -- perhaps even safer -- is by working together.
Also making a difference is NYPD's aggressive policing, including stop-and-frisk, and the city's many surveillance cameras -- technology that has helped officers solve crimes.
As unfortunate as this weekend's homicides are, there's reason to be proud fellow New Yorkers. Over time, we have shown everyone -- including a now-grown woman from Ohio -- that we continue to overcome the city's gritty and violent past.