The metropolis that has often been synonymous with urban crime in America is well on the way to putting that reputation to rest.
"New York is so safe ... we are encouraging parents to drop off children at a subway station in lieu of day care," joked Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in an appearance on the television show "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend.
City officials announced Sunday that in the first six months of this year, New York's crime rate dropped 2.5 times more steeply than the rest of the country. In a ranking of American cities by numbers of serious crimes, the Big Apple now stands among the lowest 20 percent. Giuliani says the city's overall crime rate has tumbled to the lowest level in 30 years.
New York's progress fits into a nationwide trend of declining crime rates. On Sunday, the FBI reported that the Northeast led the country with the biggest drop in serious crimes, down 6 percent during the first half of 1997.
There was a 5 percent decline in the Midwest and West, and 3 percent in the South, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Murder and robbery fell 9 percent from a year earlier. There also were drops in motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault, arson, and burglary.
A separate Justice Department survey released last week showed a 10 percent drop in violent crime from 1996.