NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) – The city's murder rate is on pace for a double-digit increase this year.
The latest numbers revealed that homicides are up 16 percent from this time last year with 464 murders through Thursday, compared to 400 in 2009.
New York Police Department officials said the increase is a concern, but not alarming when put in the context of the dramatic crime-fighting gains in the past two decades.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the numbers don't tell the whole story.
"This is the third lowest if we continue at this rate. The third lowest number of murders since we started recording murders accurately 4 1/2 decades ago," Kelly told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.
WCBS 880's Marla Diamond Reports
The increase in crime doesn't surprise life-long New Yorker Stewart Fisher.
"There have been cutbacks, haven't there in the police department? There isn't a cop around right now. So that means people who want to get away with something illegal will try and chances are they'll succeed," he told 1010 WINS' Kathleen Maloney.
1010 WINS' Kathleen Maloney Reports
Others didn't seem as worried.
"One year is not a trend. If you have two, three, four years, then that's something to worry about," a woman named Olga told Maloney.
At the height of the crack epidemic in 1990, New York City recorded over 2,000 murders. Kelly said, this year, there have been 450 despite the fact that there are 6,000 fewer cops on the street compared to 2001.
Kelly said the NYPD's efforts and crime fighting strategies are working.
"I think the police officers -- the men and women of the department -- are doing a terrific job."
And despite the numbers, some West Siders said they didn't notice much of a difference.
"Not here in this neighborhood. Not in the West Village where I work. It feels as safe as it was a year ago," one man said.
"It seems fine. It seems the same," another woman said.
In recent years, city officials have relied on favorable crime statistics to tout New York as the safest big city in America
Overall crime is down 2 percent, but critics contend crime is increasingly underreported.
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