Today’s news:

Queens’ murder rate up 28 percent: Cops

Murder in Queens has increased significantly over the last year and now the borough’s leaders say the only way to combat it would be for more resources to be given to the police and residents who are suffering the most in the recession.

The overall murder rate in Queens jumped by about 28.6 percent from 14 reported homicides last year to 18 this year, according to NYPD crime statistics dated through March 21. The borough is not alone in the surge in violent crimes since murders have increased 22.8 percent citywide with 97 slayings in 2010 compared to 79 last year.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee, said the killings were the result of budget cuts to the Police Department and he implored Albany to heed the warning signs.

“Fewer cops mean fewer eyes on the streets looking for illegal guns, which is the most effective way to stop the drive-by shooting before it occurs. If the state does not act quickly, New York City will be forced to further cut police officers and Albany’s incompetence will directly lead to lives being lost,” he said in a statement.

So far murders have been escalating in southern Queens, according to the statistics.

Queens Patrol Borough South, which includes the 100th, 101st, 102nd, 103rd, 105th, 106th, 107th and 113th precincts, had 13 murders as of March 21 compared to eight during the same period last year, according to the NYPD.

But Queens Patrol Borough North, which oversees the 104th, 108th, 109th, 110th, 111th, 112th, 114th and 115th precincts, saw homicides decrease 16.7 percent over the last year, with five reported incidents in 2010 compared to six during the same period last year.

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said that although the statistics were alarming, residents in southern Queens should not fear for their safety.

Comrie met with the 105th Precinct last week and the officers there informed him that most of the slayings this year, such as the murder-suicide that took the lives of a family of four in Rosedale, were the result of private disputes between two parties.

“None of them are strangers walking up to people and shooting them,” he said.

The councilman added that the poor economy has contributed to the violence and he vowed to continue to push for more community involvement in neighborhood safety.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also said the statistics should not alarm New Yorkers since murders and overall crime have decreased tremendously over the last 20 years.

“We’re dealing with crime so low that an up-and-down in a small amount results in large percentage changes,” he said during a news conference in Jamaica Monday.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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