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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Local, national crime rates drop again

Liberty Lake has zero violent offenses in 2011

Federal crime statistics show yet again that crime just isn’t what it used to be.

National and local crime numbers reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation show a marked decline in violent crime and also a helpful relocation hint: Anyone who doesn’t want to become a victim of robbery, rape or homicide should move to Liberty Lake, which recorded zeroes in all three categories in 2011.

In fact, Liberty Lake has had only one reported crime – a rape in 2009 – in those three categories for the past three years.

Spokane’s homicide numbers fell again, from seven in 2009 to six in 2010 to four in 2011, according to statistics released Monday.

“I think one of the things is that it’s reflective of the emergency response teams,” said Spokane police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. “We are getting there faster and are able to apply first aid techniques right away. People continue to have violent encounters, but medical personnel are able to get them to the hospital to save their lives.”

The violent crime rate, for such things as rapes and murders, remains somewhat steady. Yet the city saw about a 12 percent increase in reported robberies, climbing to a total of 484 in 2011, compared with 432 in 2010.

The total number of property crimes in Spokane made a bigger leap from 2009 to 2010, climbing from 13,240 to 15,087, or about 14 percent. That number stayed about the same in 2011, with 15,039 reported.

“Budget resources are always a struggle, so we need to figure out ways to work smarter,” DeRuwe said. “Hopefully, that’s what our new chief (Frank Straub) will bring us. We are always focusing our efforts to reduce crime.”

In Spokane Valley there was one homicide in 2009, three in 2010 and none in 2011.

The largest difference came in the number of reported rapes. Nineteen were reported in 2009, then 44 in 2010. The number of rapes then fell again – to 22 – in the 2011, according to statistics.

Spokane Valley burglaries climbed from 616 in 2009 to 837 in 2010. It rose to 917 last year.

That’s a 48.8 percent increase over two years.

Across the United States the number of violent crimes fell 3.8 percent last year.

The violent crime rate has plummeted 65 percent since 1993.

Property crimes dropped 0.5 percent to 9 million, the ninth consecutive year that figure has fallen.

The latest declines mark the continuation of a nearly two-decade drop in crime levels – a trend that almost no one in the field of criminology predicted, said Carnegie Mellon Heinz College professor John Caulkins. The trend, said Caulkins, is a reflection of a range of many factors, including policing practices.

Twenty years ago, “there was a lot of hand-wringing about high crime levels” but “we’re way past the possibility that this is a lucky conversion,” Caulkins said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.