Crime is poised to climb in New York City for the first time in nearly two decades.
The uptick is all but certain despite 11th-hour scrambling by police to keep their record-smashing crime-fighting streak intact.
That effort included New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly considering an unprecedented sit-down with trouble-spot precincts just days before New Year's and demanding updates from across the city as the final week of 2011 unfolded.
In the end, however, Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg pre-empted any countdown drama by proclaiming victory on Wednesday. Crime for the year was down 1.2 percent, the mayor announced -- or would be, if a change in the law in 2011 that made one type of strangulation a felony was factored out.
Still, the mayor's numbers left experts scratching their heads. If the city logged about 1,300 of these new strangulation cases, and the year continued on its pace for at least 1,300 more felonies, the year-end crime total would at best be flat, not down.
As it stands now, the NYPD counted 105,361 crimes through Dec. 25. On Monday, when the final stats for 2011 are counted, just 272 felonies will break the streak and trigger the first increase in New York City crime in 19 years.
"It's stable at a modern low, and that's the important thing," according to Franklin Zimring, a University of California Berkeley law professor whose research hailing Kelly's accomplishments was referenced by Bloomberg during their news conference. "If you want to worry about anything, it's that the rest of the country is in an even bigger downturn."