By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Murders and shootings have dropped by about a third in New York City high-crime neighborhoods under a police patrol program aimed at preventing a seasonal spike in crime, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
The "Summer All Out program," launched on June 8, comes after a citywide rise in homicides and shootings during the first half of 2015 after years of plummeting violent crime rates in the country's most populous city.
"We're in a position now to say 'Summer All Out' is working," de Blasio said.
The program involves sending 330 extra patrol officers to patrol 10 precincts and four public housing complexes in the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island for the three summer months.
In the month-long period since the program started, a month sooner than in earlier years, shootings have dropped nearly 30 percent and homicides more than 35 percent, officials said.
The program's early deployment came shortly after de Blasio agreed with police Commissioner Bill Bratton to boost the police force with some 1,300 recruits after previously resisting the hires.
Asked if he felt vindicated by signs of his strategy paying off with improving crime data, the mayor emphasized the success of his police commissioner's vision.
"Safer streets form stronger bonds - simple concept," said the mayor, referring to a plan Bratton recently launched to improve ties between police and residents in high-crime areas.
De Blasio's relationship with the police force and its unions has warmed in recent months after reaching a low point in December when two New York City police officers were gunned down in their patrol car. Patrolman union leader Patrick Lynch, the most outspoken de Blasio opponent, blamed the killings on what he called the mayor's anti-police attitude.
(Editing by Laila Kearney and Peter Cooney)