Preliminary data Wednesday showed an uptick in New York's major crimes last year following a decadelong drop, though law enforcement officials said it remains one of the safest states.
New York City showed a 3 percent increase in 2012, while the total in the rest of the state appeared to be flat, with violent crimes up 1.5 percent and property crimes down slightly, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
"The FBI reports that New York continues to be the safest large state in the country and the fourth safest state overall, behind only the Dakotas and Idaho," Michael Green, the division's executive deputy commissioner, told legislators Wednesday.
Statewide index crimes — murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and vehicle theft — declined to 446,733 in 2011, down 17 percent since 2002. At the same time, New York's prison population dropped from 72,000 inmates to fewer than 55,000 after revisions in tough drug sentencing laws.
Corrections Commissioner Brian Fisher testified that a proposed $3.1 billion budget for the coming fiscal year includes 58 prisons for those inmates and supervision of 36,800 parolees, with plans to close the women's prisons Bayview in Manhattan and Beacon in the Hudson Valley. Those follow seven prison closures in 2011-12.
Fischer said the return rate of parolees to prison is nearly 30 percent, though most are sent back for three, six or nine months for probation violations, and only 9 percent are returning for new convictions, the lowest rate in 24 years.
State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said his proposed $698 million budget includes money to equip more troopers with patrol rifles and stun guns, which were used in a pilot program. It includes funding for training 330 more recruits, expected to increase the force to 4,657 officers, up 5 percent.