Crime down despite recession

December 23, 2009 3:27:59 PM PST
Unemployment is way up, and you might expect crime would be up too as people struggle to make ends meet, but that's not the case.

Even as the nation has lost millions of jobs, reports of violent crime are down 4.4 percent. North Carolina has lost about a quarter of a million jobs and reported violent crime in Raleigh and Durham is significantly down.

Violent crime is down 16 percent in Raleigh and 11 percent in Durham through the first half of the year. Raleigh's police chief credits the arrest of repeat offenders who were partly responsible for a Raleigh murder spike in 2008.

"In '08, we made a great number of arrests of very violent individuals. Our detectives and homicide investigation teams did a great job," explained Chief Harry Dolan.

Others say an aging population, better home and personal security, and target policing have a bigger impact than the loss of jobs.

"Incredible community support. Community service officers have been placed on beats permanently, working directly with neighbors to solve problems," said Dolan.

The numbers are more mixed for reported property crimes, like burglary and auto theft. Durham's property crime was slightly down, while Raleigh's property crime was up 5.5 percent.

Overall, it's a good snapshot of the very recent past, but Dolan says the best number is one which may predict crime's future.

"I always share with my community groups and officers, that the most important statistic is the high school graduation rate in this community," he said. "If our children don't stay in school, we'll just see a cyclical ebb and flow."

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