MIDTOWN — While the city’s outgoing mayor and police commissioner looked back at historicly low number of homicides, the valedictorian of the Police Academy’s graduating class looked forward to a more community-based approach to law enforcement during Friday’s ceremony.
“The crime reductions the NYPD has driven over the past 12 years have defied the odds and far outpaced the rest of the nation,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a nearly full Madison Square Garden. “If you compare this decade to the previous eras’ murder rates, we can literally say that we have saved more than 9,200 lives in the last 12 years.”
There have been less than 340 reported homicides in the city this year. That is a 20 percent decrease from last year’s record low, Bloomberg added.
The graduating class of 1,500 is made up of people from 45 different countries. Their diversity should help them engage the communities they serve, the mayor said.
During his valedictorian speech, officer Matthew Ernst told his classmates that one of their top priorities should be to foster lasting relationships with the people they serve.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who said joining the department was the best career decision he ever made, thanked Bloomberg for his service as he addressed what will be his last graduating class.
Outside, family members of graduating officers celebrated with their loved ones.
“I think he did a really good thing,” said Erin Longo, 28, whose brother-in-law became and officer. “He was a Marine, did two tours. Now he’ll be in Brooklyn only 40 minutes away from home [in Staten Island].”