Brooklyn, long associated with violence, gangs and drug trafficking, went a whole week without a single murder for the first time in memory, police said this week.

The New York City borough had the dubious distinction of being the U.S. murder capital for years in the violence-ridden 1970s and '80s with thousands of crimes committed daily in the poor, tough neighborhoods of East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant.But in what police consider a sign of the changing face of Brooklyn and the city as a whole, no homicides were recorded in Brooklyn during the seven-day period ending at midnight on March 15.

A 23-year-old man was shot and stabbed in a dispute March 1, and the next recorded murder was March 16 when a woman's body was discovered in the trunk of a car, police said. Police counted the March 8 death of a woman who died two weeks after being attacked Feb. 22.

Police Commissioner Howard Safir attributed the reduction to anti-drug trafficking initiatives, which he said have taken more guns off the streets.

Murder and other serious crimes in New York City have been falling throughout the 1990s, reaching the lowest levels in a generation, according to police statistics. During 1997 the crime rate dropped for the ninth consecutive year, and 767 murders were reported, the lowest death toll in three decades.

So far during 1998, the trend has continued, and police projected the number of murders could plunge to as low as 510, which would be the lowest since 1962 when there were 506 killed. The historic high for murder was 2,245 in 1990.