The nation experienced a 5.5 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes reported, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Annual Crime Statistics for 2010, and a 2.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes compared with data from 2009. This information is based on reports from 13,007 law enforcement agencies that submitted data.
“Historically we know there are many factors that go into crime levels,” Anchorage FBI spokesperson Eric Gonzalez said. “Some of these include population density, economic conditions, climate, all these things do factor in together and that can cause these numbers to go up and down. From the FBI standpoint we try not to make large over arching conclusions based on these numbers. Obviously we do look for trends and if we do see a problem we address it. Here in Alaska the FBI works closely with city, state, and other federal law enforcement agencies in a task force setting.”
Juneau’s Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said his office is getting a number of cases from FBI agents in the capital city.
“We are actively working hand-in-hand with them,” Schmidt said. “There is a pretty good federal presence in Southeast right now and things are going good. We have made a concerted effort in oxycodone prosecutions and a concerted effort in narcotics in general. We have renewed assistance from the FBI in directing towards prosecuting drug indictments too, which is beneficial for everybody.”
Juneau Police Department Chief Greg Browning stated their numbers have not been completely updated. The department’s annual report will be finalized by the end of June.
“One thing you need to realize about (Uniform Crime Report) statistics in general is that they do need to be looked at with a grain of salt,” Browning said. “Different departments and different individuals in departments will classify different events differently, it is a little bit subjective. It is a tool that measures reported crime, which are not necessarily the incidents of crime. Crimes may be reported more readily in some communities than in others.”
Browning said aggravated assaults are up from 2009, burglary rates have taken a dip in 2010, and thefts continue to rise a bit but are in a constant range of about 1,200 per year.
“If you look at a pie chart of the crimes we deal with, thefts are always the biggest,” Browning said. “I have said it a million times, I think that could be reduced fairly easily in Juneau if people would take general precautions. Locking their cars and watching their belongings. People tend to feel a little too safe in Juneau.”
Browning also said motor vehicle thefts rose sharply in 2010, but compared to the typical theft rate in the Lower 48 it is still very low.
Browning said drugs are a major contributor in Juneau as drug offenders drive most crimes.
Domestic violence, sexual assaults, and alcohol-related crimes in Juneau and Alaska are still above the national average per capita, he said, but, along with rape, are in a downward trend.
The FBI’s report showed that the four violent crime offense categories declined nationwide: Murder and non-negligent manslaughter dropped 4.4 percent, forcible rape slid 4.2 percent, robbery was down 9.5 percent, and aggravated assault fell 3.6 percent. All property crime categories decreased as well: Motor vehicle theft dropped 7.2 percent, larceny fell 2.8 percent, and burglary declined 1.1 percent. Arson offenses decreased 8.3 percent nationwide.
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.