You can be forgiven for catching a whiff of Dinkins-era New York around the city lately: cops shooting civilians; psychos shooting cops; homelessness hitting record numbers, with more guaranteed to come as banks move in on the overmortgaged lower-middle class. It may come as a surprise, then, that the most gruesome barometer of a big city's health — the murder rate — keeps dropping. The NYPD is reporting a mere 84 homicides from the beginning of the year through last Sunday, which makes for exactly one murder a day. The same period in 2006 claimed 117 victims, or 28 percent more.
Overall, serious crime in the city (murder, rape, robbery, and assault) fell 4.7 percent last year, just as the nationwide rates began trending in the opposite direction. These figures clearly mirror New York's somewhat freakily robust economy, which leaves the experts faced with a chicken-or-egg quandary: Is the city safe because it's prosperous, or is it prosperous because it's safe? In either case, you also have to wonder if we're actually reducing crime or, along with just about everything else, simply pricing it out of the NYPD's jurisdiction.