Police at Columbus Circle

The FBI has released an initial report on uniform crime in 2003, and it seems that New York is one of the safest cities in the country, ranking 211 for crime, out of 230 cities with populations over 100,000. Mayor Bloomberg excitedly proclaimed NYC was the "safest", saying, "New York City has not only retained its title as the safest big city in the country, it had defied the odds and become even safer," using a per capita breakdown of the crimes used in the report (murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft), which showed that NYC had the least amount of crime for the top 10 largest cities. For example, NYC had 2,922 index crimes per 100,000 population, while Dallas topped the list with 9,244 index crimes per 100,000. The FBI is quick to say that the per capita calculations are all Bloomberg's doing; of course, they are - he's looking for some great stats to hitch his reelection train to. The police union argues that the pressure to drive down the city's crime has caused certain precincts to fake their numbers, but Bloomberg calls that an "insult to people that work in this city."

Other interesting facts from the report and the Mayor:

- Overall crime decreased 5.8% in all five boroughs, while the national average drop was 0.5%

- Most of the crime reduction came from a huge decrease in property crimes, such as auto thefts; violent crime was down by 6.9% in NYC, compared to a 6.5% decrease in cities over 9 million, while NYC's property crime decreased 5.4%, with other 9M+ cities experiencing just a 1% drop.

- NYC's police force is the largest (37,000 members) and has the most cops per capita (one officer per every 215 residents), at a cost of $5 billion a year.

You can read the preliminary FBI report here (PDF). Read the Mayor's press release. And yesterday, the Times profiled Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, in a fascinating look at how he's beloved by everyone (he's more popular than the mayor, but that's not that hard to do), except fellow city government employees.