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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Murders send city crime rate upwards

The city's crime rate jumped last month, led by a spike in murders, NYPD statistics show.

The murder rate rose nearly 77% to 46 homicides through Sept. 28, compared with 26 through the same date in September 2007.

Shooting crimes rose last month too, with the number of victims up 11% and the number of incidents up 10%, according to NYPD figures released Tuesday.

So far this year, the city has tallied 390 homicides, 11% more than the 350 recorded by the end of September in 2007.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that even if the violent trend continues, total homicides would still be the second lowest since the department started keeping track in 1963. Last year was a record low, with fewer than 500 homicide victims in the city.

"So we are doing, I think, an effective job of suppressing crime," Kelly said. "Would we like to see it lower? Of course. But overall, when you step out and look at the crime picture, it's going very well."

Still, the uptick in crime comes as the city is facing an economic downturn that is growing worse by the day.

Thomas Reppetto, a criminologist and co-author of "NYPD: A City and Its Police," said that while the department generally counters crime waves with effective strategies, the financial crisis could affect the number of police officers on the street.

"The great unknown is how this financial problem is going to affect the strength of the NYPD," said Reppetto. "Are they going to have sufficient resources to continue to carry out the strategies of the past? That I don't know." [Mark Godsey]

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