State’s Crime Rate Drops in 2016; DNA Databank Helps Solve More than 20,000 Crimes

December 15, 2017

New Yorkers consistently rank public safety high on the list of importance so it is good news that in 2016, the number of crimes in the state reached an all-time low. In addition, the crime rate in New York has steadily declined since 1990 with few exceptions.

According to the latest data compiled by the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York was the sixth most violent state in 1994, but today it is the safest large state in the nation. Criminal justice policies that are contributing to the decrease in the number of crimes include expansion of the DNA database, creation of the sex offender registry, longer prison times for violent criminals, and creation of Operation IMPACT—a program which enables public safety resources to help reduce crime in violent crime areas.

DCJS and the FBI use seven crime categories to gauge overall crime. These include violent crimes of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and property crimes of burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The number of crimes reported in 2016 was the lowest since statewide reporting began in 1975. Over the last 10 years, the overall crime rate (crimes per 100,000 in population) dropped by 20%. The violent crime rate dropped 9% and property crime rate declined 22% during the same period.

Here is a closer look at some of the statistics over a 10-year period with some exceptions noted:

  • The overall firearm-related homicides dropped 27% since 2007.
  • The state’s murder rate declined 24% in the last decade, but murders outside New York City spiked 10.2% between 2015 and 2016.
  • Motor vehicle theft outside of New York City was down 46% over the 10-year period. Specifically, there were 14,717 motor vehicle thefts in 2007 but only 7,936 in 2016.
  • Burglaries decreased steadily by 37% outside of New York City. In 2007 there were 43,920 burglaries reported and in 2016 there were 27,535 reported.

Arguably, the DNA databank has had the greatest impact on fighting and solving crime since 1994. Since that time, the law has been expanded five times to make it more effective. When the databank was first established, only those criminals convicted of homicide, manslaughter, rape, and other violent crimes were required to submit a DNA sample. Thankfully, in 2006 New York passed a law that required DNA specimens to be submitted by all convicted felons and those convicted of 18 misdemeanor offenses. This databank was again expanded in 2012 and New York became the first all-crimes state in the nation. This meant that those convicted of Penal Law misdemeanors would also need to provide a DNA sample which included 453 additional crimes. These expansions have helped law enforcement solve more than 20,000 cases in New York alone. The expansion has also helped to exonerate the innocent or falsely accused.

While these numbers on crime are good news, we cannot rest on our laurels. This legislative session more can be done and I look forward to advocating for the passage of additional criminal justice laws such as Brittany’s Law which would create a registry of violent offenders, and toughening penalties for child abusers. If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling (315) 598-5185. You may also find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.