MANHATTAN — The number of murders in Manhattan has nearly doubled compared to last year, according to NYPD crime statistics, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is blaming budget cuts for the rise.
There have been 16 murders in Manhattan over the first 11 weeks of the year compared to just nine over the same span in 2009, an increase of 77.8 percent.
The number of NYPD officers on the streets has steadily decreased in recent years because of budget constraints and the mayor's latest budget proposal would bring the force down to its lowest head count in two decades.
"We have fewer police out in the street than we did before," Bloomberg said of the increase. "More cops always helps."
Bloomberg said that NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would like more officers on the beat, but said, "the reality is the public is only willing to spend so much money."
The murder rate across all five boroughs has jumped 22.8 percent over the same same period in 2009, from 79 homicides to 97 as of Sunday.
Brooklyn reported the most murders with 37, while Staten Island had the least with just three. The Bronx had 23 murders and Queens reported 18.
Not surprisingly, the number shootings have increased throughout the city. There's been a 16.3 percent increase in shootings in 2010, with 293 people being shot compared to 252 in the first 11 weeks last year.
The alarming jump in murders comes after the NYPD reported a total of just 466 for the year in 2009, the lowest number since they started tracking them in 1963.
"The NYPD is fighting its own success," Paul Browne, the Police Department's top spokesman, told the New York Daily News.
The 2010 murder rate is 14 percent lower than it was in 2008.