The NYPD says last month was the safest January in decades despite some high-profile slashings, and to keep driving down the numbers, police are adopting an unconventional strategy: waking people who are sleeping on subway trains. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

The police commissioner and mayor stood shoulder to shoulder, once again boasting about reductions in crime. They say the year is off to a good start.

"We are America's safest big city. And we have proven yet again that we can become safer still," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Overall crime in January fell less than 1 percent, but there were bigger decreases in some high-profile categories.

In January, there were 22 murders, compared to 40 in January of 2015, a 45 percent drop. There were 59 shootings, compared to 90 last January, a 34 percent decline and the lowest level for a January in decades.  

"In 1995 January, we recorded 259 shootings in one month. This was 59," said Dermot Shea, deputy commissioner of operations for the NYPD.

The latest stats show rape, robbery and burglary are also down. But there is an exception to the trend. Felony assaults in January soared 18 percent.

As crime on the street remains at historic lows, the NYPD says it will now send dozens of extra officers into the subway because of a few recent slashings and thefts.

Crime in the subway is up by 36 percent from last January. About half of theft victims were napping, so Police Commissioner William Bratton announced a surprising new policy.

"Subways are not for sleeping. I know a lot of people are tired. They work very hard. But our officers are going to be instructed to start waking people up. Seriously," Bratton said. "By sleeping, you make yourself, as reflected in our crime stats, a very easy victim to lose your phone, to lose your wallet."

In addition, transit officers in administrative jobs will be shifted to patrol. Several specialized units like emergency service and strategic response will also look for crime underground.

"Designated patrol precincts in Manhattan and Brooklyn," said NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill. "We are going to have one sector on each tour, go down to a preselected station and do a compete inspection. That includes mezzanines and platforms and if there are trains pulling in."

Police said even with the increase in subway crime, the system is safe, with 6 million daily riders and just seven reported crimes each day.