New York City ended 1996 with fewer than 1,000 homicides for the first time in nearly 30 years, an achievement that is being credited to aggressive law enforcement and a decline in the number of stranger-to-stranger homicides.
Last year’s tally of 984 homicides marked the first time since 1968 that the murder toll has fallen so low. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the number of homicides in New York rose steadily, peaking in 1990, when the city set its homicide record of 2,245.
More aggressive law enforcement, with an emphasis on quality-of-life crimes, is said to have discouraged many criminals from carrying guns.
Preliminary data also show that fewer murders are occurring in public places, fewer are the result of spontaneous disagreements, robberies or drugs, and teen-agers are killing at a slower rate.