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  January 4, 2004

Keeping New York Safe
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

We’re a few days into 2004 already but, if you’re like me, memories of a spectacular New York New Year’s Eve live on. The numbers tell it all: almost 1,000,000 cheering revelers in Times Square; 28 tons of party hats, noisemakers, confetti and paper streamers collected by our fantastic Sanitation Department, New York’s Strongest; one genuine American Hero in retired U.S. Army Specialist and former Iraqi P.O.W. Shoshana Johnson, who helped me lower the ball; and zero arrests by the NYPD on a night when New Yorkers and visitors gathered together peacefully and responsibly in a celebration few of us will ever forget.

Some people may have felt a sigh of relief on New Year’s morning, after all the intense talk about increased homeland security. But I think most New Yorkers woke up with a shared sense of pride: in our city, in our magnificent police department, and in ourselves for showing that we will never be intimidated by terrorists. We will never surrender our liberties, including one of the most precious: the freedom to gather together in a jubilant mass of cultures, creeds and backgrounds to welcome the New Year with joy and optimism.

As 2004 begins, we have good reason to feel optimistic. Crime is down to record lows, figures we haven’t seen in two generations! We are enacting sweeping reform in our school system, and are on the way to ensuring that all of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students get the education they need and deserve. We’ve started the largest housing initiative in the last 15 years. We launched a five-borough economic development strategy that is producing results—and jobs. Unemployment in New York is at a 20-month low. Businesses are hiring; in November alone, they added nearly 29,000 new jobs.

It’s a little early to be bragging about keeping our New Year’s Resolutions, but I think New Yorkers can be forgiven for talking about one sure thing. In 2004, we’ll continue to go on living our lives and building the best future we can for our children – and making the greatest city in the world even greater.