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  May 30, 2004

We Are All Making A Difference in Keeping New York City Safe
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Last Monday was Memorial Day, and New Yorkers were remembering all of those who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces to defend our freedom and keep us safe. Our security at home is the job of the world’s finest police force, the NYPD. Because of their bravery and professionalism, crime in our city has been driven to historic lows, and our defenses against terrorism are strong.

Fighting crime remains, of course, the NYPD’s primary mission. And last week, the FBI released a new national crime report that spotlights the incredible job they continue to do in keeping New York the nation’s safest big city. The FBI found that during 2003, crime in New York dropped 5.8%—a decrease nearly 12 times greater than the national decline in crime. What’s even more astonishing is that during 2002 and 2003, New York City accounted for nearly half of the national decrease in crime. The result: New York City is the safest of the 10 largest U.S. cities, with an overall crime rate that is nearly half what it is in Philadelphia or Los Angeles. We also rank 211th in safety among the nation’s 230 cities with populations of 100,000 or more. That puts us right between Fremont, California, and a town with a name familiar to many New Yorkers: Port Saint Lucie, Florida, the spring training home of the Mets.

These fantastic results have been achieved at a time when the NYPD has had fewer officers on the street. The police have done more with less by focusing their resources on “problem people and problem places,” through such successful initiatives as “Operation Impact,” which identifies pockets of criminal activity and pours additional officers into those areas.

At the same time, under Commissioner Ray Kelly the NYPD has also dramatically stepped up the resources it commits to intelligence and counter-terrorism. New York’s economic importance, our strong tradition of religious tolerance, and our embrace of ethnic and cultural diversity continue to make us a target for terrorists. That’s why we’ve upgraded our equipment and training, and improved preparedness coordination both between City departments and with Federal and State law enforcement agencies. It’s also why NYPD investigators are working on terrorism cases overseas, like the arrest in London last week of a man indicted on eleven counts of terrorist activities.

Average New Yorkers have a big role to play, too—and that is, not to fall prey to fear. If we do—if we become needlessly suspicious of one another, or if we let anxiety keep us in our homes—then the terrorists will have won without firing a shot. So this Memorial Day, enjoy a picnic in the park or a day at one of the City beaches, which have just opened for the summer. Go out to one of the parades that honor our service men and women. Pay a visit to the Naval and Coast Guard vessels moored in the Hudson for Fleet Week. And make a point of thanking both the sailors and Marines who are in town this week, and also the men and women of the NYPD who are on our streets day in and day out, for protecting our safety and our liberties.