NYPD officers gather in Times Square one day after after a bomb exploded in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on December 12. Despite terrorist attacks, 2017 is on pace to be one of the safest years in recent New York City history. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 28 (UPI) -- New York City is on track to end 2017 with its lowest murder rate since the 1950s, according to New York City Police Department records.
As of Dec. 17, New York City had 278 reported homicides, including the eight victims who were killed in the October terrorist attack in Manhattan. Last year by that time, the city had 325 homicides.
New York City's homicide rate has been falling steadily for the past 27 years, when in 1990, the city hit an all-time high of 2,245 homicides, excluding the 9/11 fatalities in 2001.
But with fewer than 300 homicides in a city of more than 8.5 million people, the city is on par with the 1950s average of about 300 per year, even though the city now has nearly 1 million more people.
"There is no denying that the arc is truly exceptional in the unbroken streak of declining crime," former NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton told The New York Times.
Other violent crime rates, including those of rape, robbery, burglary and aggravated assault, are also at historic lows, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said at a news conference Tuesday.
O'Neil said neighborhood policing was a major factor in bringing down the crime rate, the Guardian reported.
"No one knows better than the people patrolling those sectors and the people that live there what's actually happening," O'Neill said.
But the city's top cop also admitted that "we can't answer definitively" what is the reason for a nearly 90 percent decline in crime.
"At least I can't. But we're seeing people coming forward and having faith in the NYPD. And that's what we want to happen," he said.