All the ballyhoo about New York's safe streets, it turns out, may be a bit overstated. Gotham does not rank in the top five safest cities in America - at least not by the yardsticks of the murder and robbery rates.
New York's murder rate, in fact, puts it 19th out of the 50 biggest cities in America - behind clean and green Seattle (15th) and civilized San Francisco (tied with Omaha, Neb., in 13th place). But it comes in ahead of some heartland cities like Indianapolis (25th) and Sunbelt cities like Tulsa (42nd).
Still, when it comes to comparisons with the Big 10 - cities teeming with at least 1 million residents - New York shines. Only San Diego and San Antonio have lower murder rates (and champions of the Big Apple point out that those two metropolises are only about one-seventh the size of New York). Moreover, the city's murder rate is about half that of Philadelphia's and Phoenix's.
On robberies, though, New York fares poorly. Of the 32 US cities with more than 450,000 residents, it ranks only 21st.
While New York may not be "A No. 1, top of the heap" in this case, it's far improved over the old days, when urban crime in America was synonymous with the South Bronx.
The huge improvement may bring a smile of satisfaction from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but the investment in crimefighting is huge. New Yorkers spent almost $3 billion last year on its police force alone - only $700 million less than Los Angeles spent on everything.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society