The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, December 23, 2012.
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“Ensuring public safety is City government’s most basic responsibility, and it’s one our Administration has focused on from the start. Over the past 11 years, we’ve cut major felony crime by 32 percent. This year we’re likely to record the fewest murders since comparable records started being kept in 1963. And maybe the most amazing part in this historic success is that, unlike many other cities, we haven’t cut crime by locking more people up. Just the opposite – New York’s incarceration rate has fallen by 32 percent since 2001. In the rest of the nation, the incarceration rate has gone up by 5 percent.
“The success we’ve had preventing crime has benefitted not only hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who were not victimized by crimes – it’s also benefitted countless New Yorkers who, instead of committing crimes, have instead been productive members of our communities. We’ve done it through a combination of strategies, including pro-active policing and smart social justice reforms.
“For instance, the NYPD has implemented crime-fighting programs like Operation Impact, which identifies criminal hot spots and floods those areas with officers. And – with the support of many crime victims, as well as leaders in communities still plagued by high crime rates – we continue to stop and question those who are suspected of committing a crime. Those steps have recovered tens of thousands of weapons.
“We’ve also invested significant resources to help more New Yorkers who’ve been arrested turn their lives around so that when they get out of jail, they stay out. That includes a range of social and community services now available inside our city’s jails. Services like counseling and educational opportunities enable them to earn diplomas and learn job skills. We’ve also established a range of programs for New Yorkers on probation. That includes mentoring opportunities and help finding jobs and housing.
“Our public safety record is a great achievement. But we know we can do even better, and a new program we’re launching to ensure New Yorkers who’ve been arrested and also have mental health issues get the treatment they need will help us do that. People who have mental health needs are over-represented in our criminal justice system. And, even if they’ve committed similar crimes and have similar bail amounts, they are less likely to post bail and they stay in jail twice as long as those without mental health needs.
“So beginning next year, we’ll create Court-Based Intervention and Resource Teams to serve over 3,000 clients annually. These teams will use a state-of-the-art assessment tool to determine a defendant’s mental health needs, likelihood of re-offense and flight risk. And they’ll work with judges to ensure that defendants who have mental illnesses and do not pose a significant public safety risk get appropriate community-based supervision and treatment rather than jail time. We expect these efforts to reduce the number of New Yorkers with a mental illness who return to jail.
“Another year as the nation’s safest big city will be a gift we all can appreciate. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening.”