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  July 11, 2004

Every New Yorker Deserves to Be Safe
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

The key to our Administration's crime-fighting success has been to focus on "problem people and problem places." That strategy is why crime in New York City is more than 15% lower than it was three years ago, and why, for the first time since the 1960s, we're on track to have a third straight year with fewer than 600 murders.

Last January, we began applying the "problem people, problem places" strategy to the job of keeping our schools safe. We concentrated on the handful of schools where disorder was at intolerably high levels, and on the small number of students disproportionately responsible for crime and rowdy behavior. Six months of results show that the strategy is starting to work. In 16 so-called "Impact schools," aggressive enforcement by police officers and school safety agents against all forms of student disorder sharply drove down serious crime. There was a 48% drop in major crimes in the 12 schools where the Impact program began in January, and a 66% decline in major crimes in four more schools added to the program in April. The problem of crime in schools isn't solved completely. But we've shown that victory is achievable, and we've learned important lessons that we'll be putting into practice when schools open again in September.

We've also begun to focus on "problem people and problem places" in the city's public housing developments. Although only about 5% of all New Yorkers live in public housing, that's where 11% of the city's murders and rapes and 16% of the shootings take place. That's completely unacceptable; every New Yorker deserves to be safe, no matter where his or her home is. That's why we recently launched "Operation Safe Housing." It mobilizes police and parole officers and the City Housing Authority in a concerted effort to eradicate the guns, drugs, and sex crimes that plague law-abiding public housing residents. From now on, criminals who deal drugs, commit rapes, or are arrested on firearms felonies will face speedy evictions from public housing apartments. Under a new trespass policy, drug dealers will be banned from public housing developments; if they come back, they will be arrested.

We're also constantly looking for other ways to make the safest big city in the nation even safer. For example, take the issue of maintaining a strong, year-round police presence on the streets. In the past, the Police Department's headcount rose and fell in a 12-month cycle, because only one class of new officers graduated from the Police Academy each January. This year, we've solved that problem by, for the first time, training two classes instead of just one. Last week, more than 690 recruits completed six months of training. They're on the streets now, and will be on duty during next month's Republican National Convention. At the same time, a new class of more than 1,650 cadets just entered the Academy and will graduate in December. The result: improved police training, deployment, and management...a more level headcount throughout the year...and better all-around police protection for all New Yorkers.