Mayor's WINS Address
Hear the Mayor's Message
As we begin a New Year, we should take a moment to look at the tremendous progress the City has made in becoming a safer place for all New Yorkers. In 1998, murders dropped an additional 19 percent below last year, giving New York City fewer homicides than Chicago, a city that's about one third the size of New York. Historically, New York City has now turned back its own homicide rate 34 years - with fewer murders committed in 1998 than were committed in 1964. Overall crime has also declined sharply, dropping 11 percent below last year's total. The safest large city in America is getting safer every day.
What's made our crime reductions so successful? Among other things, we've focused on quality-of-life crimes that were ignored for years… placed unprecedented pressure on the drug trade… rooted out illegal handguns… and targeted gangs. We've decided on the right way to measure our progress - with a system called CompStat - and then had the courage to assess our performance, adjust our strategies, and hold police officers accountable for their work.
These practical specific strategies explain much of our success, but there's a more basic philosophical foundation: more and more people across the City are internalizing the idea that we should respect one another. More and more people understand that in a complex, crowded City we have to know the reasonable limits of behavior in order to experience real freedom. And we also understand that being free from fear and intimidation, or as free as we possibly can be, is one of the most basic rights a person can have. Personal safety - what the Constitution called "domestic tranquillity" - is the fundamental civil right that provides the foundation for every other freedom.
As a result, we've come further than anyone could have predicted. But anyone who has ever achieved any measure of success knows that you can never grow complacent.
That's why we need to build on Jenna's Law and eliminate parole for criminals who commit drug-related felonies. And that's why a few weeks ago Police Commissioner Safir called for what we believe can be another important tool to continue reducing crime in the City: DNA testing. Sampling the DNA of all those who are arrested - through a very simple, non-invasive procedure that involves briefly placing a swab in the mouth to collect saliva - is essentially a more advanced and more precise form of fingerprinting. In concert with strict privacy protections so that the process cannot be misused, DNA represents an important new tool in policing that can help convict the guilty and, equally important, keep the innocent free.
I look forward to making continued progress to build a safer, stronger, more independent City for this and the next generation. From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.