Crime statistics from 2006 showed a nationwide increase in violent crime - a trend for the last several years. But things are different in New York, where 2006 FBI statistics show a 3.1 percent decline in violent crime and a 7.2 percent fall in crime overall.

Resources and innovation are part of the reason for success, but everything revolves around Commissioner Ray Kelly, a 31-year veteran of the NYPD. Kelly has continued New York's pioneering CompStat crime-mapping strategy, but he's also taken city law-enforcement efforts to another level, presiding over the development of New York's Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), and the concept of the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative.

The $11 million RTCC is staffed with about two dozen investigators, and it processes information from the field and billions of records. RTCC staff has access to 120 million criminal complaints, arrest records and 911 calls from New York City, as well as 5 million city parole and probation files. In addition, RTCC investigators can tap into 30 million national crime records.

The RTCC also monitors satellite images, maps, diagrams and surveillance camera photos from around the city. The visuals plus real-time information let investigators plot strategy moment-by-moment rather than after the fact.

The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative is a London-style surveillance system that deploys more than 3,000 private and public surveillance cameras, including 116 license plate readers in fixed and mobile locations, such as cars and helicopters.

Jim McKay  |  Associate editor