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April 10, 2008

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By Leslie Korngold
The Journal News • April 10, 2008


NEW ROCHELLE - New Rochelle remains among the top five safest cities of its size in the United States with a historic 40-year low in reported Part 1 crimes, according to the Police Department's annual report released this week.

The city has the lowest crime rate among cities of comparable size in Westchester - Mount Vernon, White Plains and Yonkers - as well as among similar municipalities throughout New York state, said Lt. Cosmo Costa, who put the report together.

Despite an increase in aggravated assaults and burglaries over 2006, an overall 40-year downward trend in crime in the city continued to its lowest point in 2007.

There was an 11 percent decrease over 2006 in the seven Part 1 crimes reported - aggravated assault, auto theft, burglary, larceny, murder and negligent homicide, rape and robbery - and a 24 percent decrease over the past decade in the city.

There was also a decrease in arrests - they went down 32 percent from 2006. But juvenile felony arrests more than doubled, from 12 in 2006 to 37 last year.

Burglary arrests were down 42 percent with 27 fewer arrests, although there were 21 additional incidents; and arrests for aggravated assaults were down 16 percent with 23 fewer arrests, although there were 15 additional incidents. It could not be determined yesterday how many of the juvenile felony arrests resolved those Part 1 crimes.

The numerical difference in the arrests, Costa said, are not so great as to "show a big difference" in impact, he said.

"Surely," he said, the department's crime-prevention measures play a part in the city's being safe, not just the arrests being made.

FBI data for 2006 of cities with populations of 70,000-80,000 showed New Rochelle as having the fifth-lowest crime rate nationally for Part I crimes, at 24.35 crimes per 1,000. This is the seventh year the city has been among the top five safest cities of comparable size in the nation. The only other east coast city in this year's list is Danbury, Conn.; the other three are in California.

"It is very gratifying that violent crimes are down again for the seventh year, especially the crime of robbery," Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said in a release announcing the report.

Police, the release said, are also concentrating on other crimes impacting quality of life such as vandalism, drugs and identity theft. "These are things that can plague a neighborhood, and we plan to get to the heart of that, to make our community risk-free," Carroll noted.

"This excellent news is a credit to the professionalism and dedication of our police force, working in concert with citizens and community leaders," said Mayor Noam Bramson. "We will continue working to ensure that New Rochelle remains one of the safest mid-sized cities in America."

Reach Leslie Korngold at lkorngol@lohud.com or 914-694-3519.

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