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Drop in crime across NYC commended by de Blasio, O’Neill

Last year, the city had the lowest number of homicides — 290 — since World War II and the fewest shootings — 789 — in recorded history.

Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill, center, speaks Friday,

Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill, center, speaks Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, during a news conference announcing year-end crime statistics along with other topics. Left is Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot F. Shea, and right is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Extolling it as the “Safest Big City In America,” Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill on Friday touted New York City’s record year of crime declines in 2017.

The crime statistics were the worst kept secret as numerous news reports noted in recent days that last year the city had the lowest number of homicides since the end of World War II and the fewest shootings in recorded history. O’Neill and other police officials indicated they would keep the pressure up to try and drive serious crime even lower in 2018.

“No matter how well we are doing we can always do better, we must do better, that is our obligation,” O’Neill told reporters at the 2017 year-end crime briefing. “Heading into this New Year we will never let up. Our goal is always to set the standard for effective, efficient policing in this country again and again.”

Though neither de Blasio nor O’Neill revealed statistics comparing the local serious crime picture with that of other cities, for the five largest U.S. cities New York had the lowest homicide rate per 100,000 population. With a revised shooting number of 789, the city witnessed just a fraction of the gun violence of Chicago, which had more than 2,800 incidents last year.

Chief Dermot Shea, head of NYPD crime strategies, noted that in 2015 he wrote down three crime fighting goals: under 300 homicides, under 1,000 shootings and below 100,000 serious felonies such as rape and robbery. All three goals were met in 2017 with 290 homicides, 789 shootings and just over 96,500 serious felonies, Shea said.

“I believe we can go lower,” Shea said. “We can lower, we can do better.

One looming problem is the federal concealed carry reciprocity legislation, O’Neill said. The law, which has passed the House, would allow a person who has the legal right to carry a concealed weapon in his home state to lawfully possess it in New York City.

“This just can’t be,” O’Neill said about the legislation. “We are at such a low level of firearms violence in New York City now, any change might possibly have that huge negative.”

Asked who would replace retired Chief of Department Carlos Gomez, O’Neill said the selection process wasn’t finished but that current Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan had the spot on an acting basis.

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