The NYPD is sending 1,800 rookies to patrol high-crime pockets that have resisted the overall crime drop, officials said Wednesday as they announced the city is poised to have the fewest murders in 44 years.
One third of the officers - some 600 cops - will be deployed in hot spots in six Brooklyn precincts starting tomorrow.
The remaining 1,200 cops will be distributed in nine high-crime zones in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan in an attempt to give all sections of the city a similar decline in crime.
"One crime is one crime too many," Mayor Bloomberg said as he and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the infusion of officers, a doubling of the NYPD's successful Operation Impact program.
The expansion comes as the city could see fewer than 500 homicides this year, a record few thought possible in 1990 when there were 2,245 homicides.
"Today, with just five days of the year remaining it appears we have another historic achievement within our reach - recording fewer than 500 murders in 2007," Bloomberg said.
The city had 484 murders as of yesterday morning, Kelly said. Tallies this low have not been seen since they started keeping statistics in 1963, when there were 548 murders.
The change was most startling in Harlem's 28th Precinct, which had three homicides this year - a 73% decline in the murder rate since last year - and an overall 23% drop in crime.
"It is a different Harlem - different from when I was growing up but even different from just five years ago, safer, less crazy random stuff happening," said Sanford Williams, 47, a painting contractor and musician.
"Fewer innocent people seem to be mugged or hit by strays, stuff that used to happen more just a few years ago," he said.
While overall crime in the city is down 6% this year, certain neighborhoods have seen spikes, such as Brooklyn's 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Homicides in the 79th Precinct were down 21.7% this year - 18 murders through Sunday - but shootings were up 26% and overall crime up 5.5% compared with last year.
That was enough to land the precinct on the list for an influx of additional rookie officers.
Kelly started Operation Impact in 2003, and has dedicated roughly two-thirds of each graduating police class to the crimefighting tactic.
A recent study by professors at New York University and SUNY Albany found that Operation Impact is the reason New York City continues to decrease crime.
Impact zones - sometimes just a few blocks long - get extra resources for six months.
So, while Queens' 115th Precinct saw overall crime drop 10%, it and the neighboring 110th Precinct will share an Impact Zone along Roosevelt Ave., identified as a crime hot spot.
Kelly had warned that attrition, coupled with recruiting problems because of the low $25,100 starting salary, could derail the Impact zones.
Anticipated attrition for 2008 has leveled off, so the NYPD should be able to keep the Impact officers in place "at least a couple of months and see what the results are," Kelly said.
The NYPD will monitor the level of officers assigned to precincts, and rearrange manpower as needed, but "ideally, we'll be able to maintain this level," he said.
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