Bolstered by the decline, the department will continue to focus on smaller offenses as a way to reduce larger crimes.
“I’m sorry, broken windows is here to stay. Stop, question and frisk is here to stay,” Bratton said in response to a question about crime rates staying down during a recent slowdown in arrests. “But they'll will be done at an appropriate amount, so even the broken windows policing, we are very selective in terms of looking at areas where we can reduce the need for that — marijuana arrests is clearly one of those.”
Major crime plummeted 4.6 percent in 2014 compared with 2013, officials announced at an afternoon press conference, and murders hit a historic low with 332 homicides in 2014 compared to 335 in 2013.
Marijuana arrests were down 10.5 percent from the previous year, after a change in policy about arresting people with the drug in plain view.
Transit crime was also down 14.8 percent this year compared to last, according to officials, and housing crime was down six percent.
Shootings were up this year, however, to almost 1,200 shootings, with 68 more incidents this year than in 2013, officials said. Gang violence was a big part of the problem, with 45 percent of shootings related to a gang or crew.
The biggest increase was in The Bronx where there were 45 more shootings this year, officials added.
The number of stop and frisks was also down 75 percent in 2014 to less than 100,000 stops, compared with more than a half million stops in 2011, according to official numbers, after another change in policy to comply with a federal court decision about the tactic.
Of those stops nearly 16 percent resulted in an arrest.
The police commissioner also said the NYPD leadership was "watching very closely" for a possible work slowdown by some officers, but added that recent events like the protests following the Eric Garner verdict and police shooting could have also contributed to a decrease in arrests.
"I’d point out that even with that decline in officer activity that’s impacted certainly by the events of the last month," Bratton said. "I don’t think we’ve ever quite had a month like this past month, with the demonstrations beginning on Dec. 3rd, the daily demonstrations that required the actions of thousands of our officers that spent a lot of time dealing with that."
The mayor also directly addressed questions during the press conference about police officers who turned their backs while he spoke at the funerals for officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40.
“I can’t understand why anyone would do such a thing in a context like that,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding the officers involved were “disrespectful” to the officers’ families.
But he, like Bratton, continued to focus on what they see as a long term reduction in crime and improved police-community relations.
“This is breathtaking, the info we have here,” de Blasio said. “A lot of us that were here in the 1980s, 1990s could never imagine these kinds of numbers.”