'Murder Capital of America' Now as Deadly as Wyoming

NYC sees killings hit record low, perhaps in part due to community policing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 21, 2017 10:10 AM CST
Odds of Getting Killed in NYC: Same as in Montana
In this photo from Tuesday, a police officer talks to a driver after making a stop while patrolling in the Brooklyn borough of New York. In 2017, crime dropped substantially, including in areas like Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct, once among the nation’s most chronically violent places.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Even after two terrorist attacks and a driver's deadly rampage through Times Square, New York City is on track to smash its modern-era low for homicides in a year. Through Dec. 17, the city of 8.5 million people, once America's murder capital, had recorded 278 killings. That puts it on pace to end this year with killings down 14% from last year, and well below the 333 in 2014, which was the year with the fewest homicides since the city began keeping accurate crime statistics in 1963, per the AP. Those numbers mean a person's odds of getting killed in New York City this year were about the same as they were last year in Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota. Crime has been dropping for many years in New York, but 2017 saw substantial drops even in places like Brooklyn's 75th Precinct, once among the nation's most violent places.

"I've lived here all my life," says a local construction worker. "It's a different world now." There were 126 killings in the 75th Precinct in 1993; this year, there have been 11. The stats stand in sharp contrast to the picture of NYC painted by President Trump on the campaign trail, when he said murders were up because the city's liberal mayor was coddling illegal immigrants and abandoning the stop-and-frisk of predominantly innocent black and Hispanic men. "I don't think [these numbers are] something that can be ignored," Police Commissioner James O'Neill says. Some criminologists say a move away from heavy-handed policing may have helped lower crime, though researchers also attribute the NYPD's success to factors such as a flood of wealthier people into NYC and a high employment rate.

(Read more New York City stories.)

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