population - 468,730
Staten Islanders have always seen themselves as living in tranquil bedroom communities within the City of New York — close enough to enjoy its big-city treasures, yet far enough away to avoid the gritty downside of urban life. Never was that more true than during the 1980s and 90s when crime skyrocketed across the Big Apple. At the time, many neighborhoods in the other four boroughs were ravaged by crack-crazed felons, marauding teens and armed bandits who had some residents cowering behind locked doors. All the while, Staten Islanders enjoyed relative safety in their suburban enclave, with only pockets of the island experiencing violent crime — among them, New Brighton, Stapleton and Mariners Harbor.
To this day, Staten Islanders continue to live in the safest borough. But this also has been a period in which crime across the rest of the city has toppled to levels as low as they were in the early 1960s. On Staten Island, overall serious crimes were down nearly 77 percent in the 17 years since 1993, from more than 12,660 reported incidents. In 2010, there were just 2,926 reported: 17 murders, 63 rapes, 420 robberies, 484 felony assaults, 620 burglaries, 973 grand larcenies and 349 auto thefts, which dropped 93 percent during this period.
Drop in total major crimes, 1993 to 2010
Rise in reported rapes, 2001 to 2010
These low rates are why two of the borough's three precincts — the 123rd, Great Kills & Tottenville, and the 122nd, New Dorp & South Beach, are rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, as the safest precincts in New York City, according to the DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report analysis. The murder toll provides further insight on the Staten Island story. There were just four killings in 2010 in these two top precincts — and the two victims were the parents of their schizophrenic son. Even the 120th Precinct of St. George and its surrounding neighborhoods, which most closely reflect the makeup of the rest of the city, still earned the No. 12 spot in the DNAinfo.com report.
"The fact is the borough has nowhere near the level of drug and gang activity as other parts of the city," said a former Staten Island law enforcement officer, who did not wish to be named. "And you can probably take the violent areas of Staten Island and drop them into a 10-block area. "Therefore, the chance of being randomly targeted for serious violent crime is relatively non-existent on Staten Island," the former officer added. "And [being randomly targeted] is every New Yorker's true fear, regardless of where they live."
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