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NYC expects 2012 to have fewest murders on record

As New York police recruits graduated, officials said the number of murders will probably hit a record low in 2012.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

As New York police recruits graduated, officials said the number of murders will probably hit a record low in 2012.

NEW YORK — The number of murders in New York City is expected to hit a record low this year, and shootings are at their lowest point in at least 18 years, officials said Friday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly credited police efforts, including the controversial tactic known as stop and frisk, and Bloomberg said the statistics showed ‘‘that the safest big city in America is safer.’’

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There have been 414 homicides citywide this year, 19 percent fewer than last year and the fewest since reliable record-keeping for killings began in 1963. The previous low was 471, in 2009.

There have been 1,353 shootings this year, comparable with records going back to 1994. The previous low was 1,420 in 2009, and the number has dropped by more than 8 percent since last year.

Violent crime hit high points in New York in the 1990s, with a record 2,245 murders in 1990.

While there have been ups and downs since, the overall drop in crime and violence has helped reshape the city’s image. Bloomberg often calls New York the safest big city in America, a description based on FBI statistics for seven major crimes. New York has the lowest rate per 100,000 residents among the 25 most populous US cities.

This year’s expected drop in murders is ‘‘a testament to the hard work and determination of the men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day — and it also reflects our commitment to doing everything possible to stop gun violence,’’ Bloomberg said. He and Kelly announced the numbers at a graduation ceremony for about 1,100 police recruits.

Guns remained the leading cause of homicide this year, used to kill 237 people.

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