As the ball dropped in Times Square last Tuesday evening, ushering in 1997, the world celebrated the dawn of a new year.
And in New York, 1997 has special significance.It marks the 100th anniversary of the consolidation of our five great boroughs into the world's greatest city.
But this New Year has special significance for other reasons too, because as we close the books on 1996, we begin a new era as one of the safest cities in America.
Last year our city's murder rate fell below 1,000 for the first time since 1968, and this milestone caps an almost 50% reduction in murders over the last three years.
Since 1993, robbery is down 43% (42.6), assault is down 26% (25.7), burglary is down 39% (38.7) and auto theft is down 47% (46.8)
Overall, in the last three years serious felony crime in New York is down nearly 39% (38.9). That means since 1993, there have been 162,428 fewer felony crimes.
Thanks to these reductions 162,000 people celebrated this holiday season without the stigma of victimization, without the fear for themselves and their families, without the feeling of violation and helplessness.
This dramatic improvement in public safety demonstrates that the quality of life agenda, the targeted police strategies, the computer mapping and deployment techniques and all of our crime fighting initiatives have worked better than anyone expected, better even than I had hoped.
A lot of credit should go to Police Commissioner Safir, who has done a terrific job reinvigorating the department, and who has implemented the most comprehensive anti-drug initiative in city history.
And of course it is the hard~working men and women of the NYPD, who put their lives on the line every day, and who have shown the world that they are the best, most dedicated, most effective crime fighting force on the planet.
But also, this is part of an overall tremendous improvement in the entire spirit of the city. This is a city that feels better about itself. It's a city that's cleaner. It's a city that's doing better economically. It's a city that's having another record year for tourism.
And all of these elements contribute to the dramatically improved quality of life that we are seeing throughout New York.
You know, while just about everybody else gets to take off New Year's Day, the people who keep us safe and provide us with critical services still have to work.
Each year I make it a point to visit some of these people and thank them for the outstanding job that they do And maybe, as the New Year begins, you will all join with me, and take a second to thank a police officer, a fire fighter, a corrections officer, a sanitation worker, or any of the thousands of personnel who together helped to make 1996 such an outstanding year for our city.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wishing everyone a joyous and prosperous New Year.