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Four years after Brian Watkins, a 22-year-old tourist from Provo, Utah, was stabbed to death in a mid-Manhattan subway station, the transit police said reports of subway crime in the first six months of 1994 dropped faster than at any time since the start of 1990.

Reported subway felonies dropped 17.9 percent in the first half of this year compared to the first six months of 1993. That sharp drop means that reported crime has declined 47.3 percent overall since the first six months of 1990, the police said Wednesday.Gov. Mario Cuomo hailed the decrease, linking it to $40 million provided by the state in 1990 for personnel and equipment to fight crime.

"That $40 million came to us following the tragic killing of Brian Watkins in the subway," said Albert W. O'Leary, the transit police spokesman.

"It galvanized the attention of the government on the problem we were having with rising crime in the subway."

O'Leary said that subway crime reached record levels in 1990.

The $40 million, he said, helped pay for the equivalent of 200 extra transit officers on patrol through overtime, computers for crime analysis and vans to reduce the use of patrol cars for transporting prisoners.

The latest figures released Wednesday showed that robbery was down 23.2 percent compared to the first six months of 1993; assault decreased 6.8 percent; burglary, 39 percent; grand larceny, 12.8 percent; and other felonies 15.5 percent. The number of homicides was unchanged at six; rapes

fell, from 11 to five.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani pointed out that crime in the city as a whole has also decreased.