With less than two weeks to go, the city is likely to end 2017 year with the fewest number of murders in any year since at least the 1950s. NYPD officials say a major reason is an approach to policing that began when crime was rampant in the city nearly 25 years ago. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Hitting the streets and chasing down criminals, that's the visible side of the NYPD. But an important part of policing the public doesn't see: Officers pouring over numbers to pinpoint problems and track down the bad guys.
"Those big binders are full of information of really all the fine points that go into fighting crime," said NYPD Captain John Buttacavoli.
Every Thursday morning is quiz time for precinct and borough commanders. They must report to police headquarters and submit to questioning by ranking chiefs about crime patterns in the areas they oversee.
This process is called CompStat, short for Comparing Statistics. It began in the 1990s as a data-driven approach to crime fighting. Crime statistics are compiled, computerized and analyzed each week to look for patterns and problem areas which are then targeted.
"These meetings are extremely constructive and we see something that we can improve on. And we certainly will," said NYPD Deputy Chief Charles McEvoy.
Over the last 25 years, the NYPD has rolled out numerous crime fighting strategies: Pressure point, Operation Impact, stop-and-frisk, gang takedowns, and neighborhood policing to name a few.
But the CompStat process is the one constant. It hasn't changed much since its introduction.
Police say it's the biggest reason why the city is on track to end the year with fewer than 300 murders for the first time since at least the 1950s.
A far cry from the record of 2,245 murders in 1990.
"Crime is down to ridiculously low levels," said NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan.
But CompStat is not just about detecting crime patterns. It's also a tool for holding commanders accountable.
If local commanders don't have answers for crime problems in their neighborhoods, it is for certain they'll be back in a couple of weeks being grilled once again by the big bosses.
"This meeting is not about gotcha but it is what's going on in a particular area. Articulate you have an awareness of what is going on," said NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot Shea.
And it's not just the Thursday CompStat meeting, there are pre CompStat meetings on Wednesdays where chiefs of several NYPD bureaus gather to figure out what to grill precinct commanders on the following day.
"If you would have used this tool to patternize it, you would have seen the pattern isn't three, it is six hits. So we will turn it into a teaching," Shea said.
At the CompStat meetings NY1 attended this month, police brass spent surprisingly no time discussing gun violence and murders.
"It is a credit that at the end of the year we are going to be talking about grand larceny and burglaries instead of homicides and shootings," Monahan said.
Although stopping violence and saving lives remain the NYPD's priority, the plunging murder numbers mean cops can spend a lot more time now on other issues.
"As we get forward to go into 2018, we are gonna have to learn how to focus on some of those other crimes," Monahan added.
And that's a good thing, police worrying about an uptick in burglaries and not murders.