The year 2009 was the safest on record for New Haven, and critics are ignoring the big picture, New Haven Police Chief James Lewis said today at his last press conference.

The city saw a 10 percent decline in crime, and there were 1,000 fewer victims of serious crimes (murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft), Lewis said. The crime rate is the lowest since police started keeping track in 1990.

Some community officials and aldermen said a spurt of violence at the end of last year proved that police tactics needed to change, but Lewis maintained that those critics could not ignore the overall crime drop. He attributed the success in crime reduction to aggressive targeting criminal activities and the small number of people who commit the vast of majority of them.

Lewis is set to depart by the end of February, and he said he hopes his successor continues implement and improve the policies he has established.