NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- With just days left before leaving office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly took time Friday to reflect on their legacies.
As WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola reported, the men touted the falling crime rate over the past 12 years as they presided over their final NYPD graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden.
"In our city of 8.4 million people, there have been fewer than 340 homicides and that's 20 percent below last year's record low," said Bloomberg. "The murder rate is down to levels New Yorkers haven't seen since the 1950s."
2013 On Track For Fewest Murders Ever Recorded In New York City
The highest number of murders in New York City history was in 1990 when 2,245 people were killed. Those numbers went down in 2001 to 649.
But this year there have been 332 murders reported.
Lifelong New Yorker Susan Shaw of Queens told CBS 2's Sonia Moghe she no longer recognizes parts of her city.
"A lot of the neighborhoods that I used to go to if I haven't been there for a while I'm kind of surprised. Everything's really, if you go a couple of blocks you might hit a rough patch, but now everything's so nice," Shaw said.
Bloomberg credits the dramatic decrease to police officers doing their jobs. Shaw told Moghe she agrees.
"Definitely, I see more police. I don't really see them doing too much, but I think just their being around helps. I think a lot of surveillance cameras helps, when you see stuff on the news you see surveillance video which makes people think twice," Shaw said.
However, one Brooklynite told Moghe the numbers can be deceiving.
"I think the crime is much more than you think. It's terrible to walk here at night. I live here near Nostrand and it look like the city don't care," the person said.
Reflecting on his 12 years at the helm of the department, Kelly noted that the city has dealt with two hurricanes, an earthquake, Occupy Wall Street and an attempted attack on Times Square.
"It just kept coming. A lot of additional challenges, but the department was equal to the task," said the commissioner. "I will always be grateful to the mayor for giving me the opportunity to serve again as police commissioner and I am immensely grateful to the men and women of the department who protect this city 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
Kelly also thought back on his graduation day 47 years ago, Kosola reported.
Nearly 1,200 cadets graduated on Friday.
The class includes immigrants from 45 different countries. Bloomberg praised the graduates' varied backgrounds, saying he's proud to see "police officers who reflect our city's diversity."
Overall, the department has become more diverse in the last 12 years. Now, nearly half of all police officers are minorities, as are most city residents.
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