NEW YORK (AP) -- In continuation of a decade-long trend, violent crime in New York City is down again.
The latest New York Police Department statistics show 85 murders were reported through March 17 -- down 39.7 percent from the same period last year. In Manhattan, only 11 murders were recorded, compared with 28 last year.
Overall violent crime -- murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft -- was down by 7.9 percent. The numbers were down 18 percent compared with 2000, and 65.4 percent compared to 1993.
The drop occurred even as police have cut overtime and redeployed officers to meet anti-terrorism demands.
The dramatic decline has lowered crime to levels not seen since the early 1960s. In recent years, experts have cited the waning of the crack cocaine trade, longer sentences for violent criminals, a drop in the number of young men, and an improved economy as factors.
But sociologist Andrew Karmen of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, who studies crime rates, said there is no clear explanation for New York's continuing drop.
"It's very puzzling," he said. "There ought to be a blue ribbon commission of experts to look into it."
Some other large cities -- including Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles -- have watched crime creep back up as the economy dipped.
Police officials credit their Compstat system -- adopted by departments across the country -- that tracks crime patterns. Officers are deployed based on where and when criminals are most active, and commanders judged on statistical results.
Another initiative has refocused the department on so-called quality of life crimes, such as shoplifting and turnstile jumping. The theory is that people who commit petty crimes eventually graduate to more violent offenses.