Crime is Decreasing?

The FBI has released 2010 crime reporting data that shows that violent crime dropped 6 % in 2010, the 4th straight year-to-year decrease nationally.  Property crime was down for the 8th straight year, falling 2.7 %.   On a national level that is great news. 

So now you are asking what about Auburn Hills?  Here is the data:

Violent Crime

Murder/manslaughter:  Up    from 0 to 1.  We had one death that was classified as murder/manslaughter (deliver controlled substance causing death) in 2010 and none in 2009.  The only previous one we had in the last 5 years was in 2007. 

Forcible sexual offenses:  Up From 16 incidents to 27.

Robbery:  Up From 16 incidents to 26.

Assault Offenses:   Down From 412 incidents to 383.  Includes things like stalking, domestic violence and bomb threats.

Property Crime

Burglary:  Up 87 in 2009 to 138 in 2010

Larceny/Theft:  Down  773 in 2009 to 738 in 2010

Motor Vehicle Theft:  Down  48 in 2009 to 46 in 2010

Arson:  Down  5 in 2009 to 3 in 2010

One thing to remember about the data I am giving here is that I am including both attempts and completed crimes and  all crimes that are part of a given event.  For example, if there is a burglary of a house where a forcible sexual event takes place, I am including both of those crimes in this count. I am not certain if FBI counts it in that same way.  You know, the devil is always in the details.

Police Employee Data

The report also details the average number of police employees per thousand residents for the entire country at 3.5.    The average rate of sworn is 2.4 per 1,000 population.  Here in Auburn Hills we have 62 employees with 49 sworn right at the moment for a population of nearly 21,000.   

We look at this data all the time, in monthly increments and quarterly increments and strategize how to impact reported crime.  Crime control is a complex thing.  No one really knows what factors impact it–everyone has a theory.  It is NOT the measure I use to determine the effectiveness of the police.  I prefer to use case clearance statistics.  I think that is a better determinant of what the police are doing about crime.  Tune in tomorrow for more on case clearance.

I agree with Professor Fox when he says:

“The last thing we should do is get complacent and say ‘mission accomplished’ and so let’s transfer resources away to other areas,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University.  “you don’t solve the crime problem.  You only control it.  Without sufficient support for policing and crime prevention, the numbers can go back up.” (Associated Press, 9/19/2011)

You can check your community’s reported crime statistics by going to the FBI website Crime in the United States 2010.  It is important to note the FBI’s cautions on how to use this data:

Caution against ranking: Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region.  Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.