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For the 14th year in a row, murders are down in New York City. To date, there have been 549 homicides in 2004, down from a total of 579 homicides in 2003. Of the other major crime categories, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto, only grand larceny has seen an increase from 2003. The total drop in major crime has been 4.6%.

The numbers are considered impressive because crime in the city was already considered so low for such a large population. New York has almost half the number of murders per 100,000 residents as the country's 10 largest cities.

While the decrease from last year might be somewhat minimal in comparison to some other cities, keep in mind that in 1990, there were 2245 homicides. It's hard to argue with numbers like that. The falling numbers are a surprise to criminal justice experts because the numbers were already low, yet they continue to fall. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly even accepts a certain amount of homicides, "There's always unfortunately going to be a core number of homicides that law enforcement can't do very much about."

If that's not enough good death news for you, death by fire is also down this year. To date, there have been only 81 people killed by fire, down from 125 last year. The figure is the the lowest number since 1919 when there were 77 deaths.

Do you feel more or less safe than last year, or are things pretty much on par with your experiences in the past?