Homicides Plunge in New York, Spike in Chicago

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 29 2012 3:10 PM

New York Celebrates Record Low Homicides in 2012 While Chicago Grapples With Spike

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Police cordon off the scene of a fatal shooting in Manhattan on December 10

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even though New Yorkers were terrified by news that a woman pushed a man in front of a train in Queens on Thursday night (a suspect was in custody Saturday) in what was the second subway fatality of its kind in a month, the truth is that it was quite a safe year to be a resident of the Big Apple. Murders in New York dropped to their lowest level in more than 40 years with 414 recorded homicides as of Friday, compared with 515 for the same period last year, and lower than the previous record low of 471 set in 2009, reports the New York Times. That is quite the contrast from the early 1990s, when the number of homicides in a year easily reached the low 2,000s. While murders decreased, thefts increased, based almost entirely in a soaring number of robberies of Apple devices, including iPhones.

While New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg celebrated the latest plunge, officials in the country’s third-largest city have been grappling with how to make sure 2013 doesn’t see a repeat of what was a very bloody year. The murder count in Chicago reached 500 last Friday, the first time it reached that number in four years, when 513 were killed in 2008, reports the Chicago Tribune. It marked a 17 percent increase in homicides from last year, in large part because of gang violence that seems to be increasingly audacious, points out the Associated Press. Still, the number of homicides this year pales in comparison to what the city saw in the early 1990s when around 900 people were killed every year.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.