CRIME

Despite fewer police, crime down in Flagstaff

2013-01-16T05:10:00Z 2013-01-16T09:06:34Z Despite fewer police, crime down in FlagstaffERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
January 16, 2013 5:10 am  • 

With 2012 behind them, Flagstaff Police Department officials are reviewing their successes in reducing overall crime last year and prioritizing for the year ahead.

The lower property crime and flat violent crime rates for the city stand in contrast to the nation.

And they came despite fewer staff hours: 91,566 in 2012 vs. 105,751 in 2011. That's a 15 percent drop in one year, and down 20 percent from 2010.

Among the 2013 goals police have identified:

-- Reducing home break-ins

-- Making the streets safer for drivers and cyclists

-- Identifying repeat criminal offenders

-- Retaining their officers

Police officials said they're happy with the drop in property crime in 2012, which fell 6 percent overall, but believe there's still room for improvement.

"We don't want to take our feet off the pedal," said Sgt. James Jackson of the Flagstaff Police Department.

The agency wants to make reducing residential burglaries a top priority in 2013, as the number of home break-ins increased last year despite police efforts to stop it.

Jackson said that many home break-ins could be prevented if police could get buy-in from the community to be more vigilant and take pride in their neighborhoods.

"We want to educate the public to please lock your doors and windows -- make it difficult for people to come into your home," Jackson said. "We encourage them to look for suspicious, out-of-place vehicles in their neighborhoods."

In the coming months, officers will go door-to-door talking to people about what they can do to secure their homes and look out for their neighbors. He said officers will be teaching them how to spot suspicious activity and then report it to police.

Much of the decrease in property crime was fueled by plummeting auto burglaries in 2012, which fell a whopping 42 percent.

But officials said they want to solidify that drop this year by continuing to hammer on areas where they historically have seen people break into vehicles.

Jackson added the agency was also happy that violent crime stayed flat in 2012, with 265 violent crimes reported. The category includes robbery, aggravated assault, rape and homicide.

Those decreases have largely come from a surprising decrease in reports of sexual assault. There were 20 percent fewer sexual assaults reported in 2012.

In contrast, violent crime increased substantially nationwide in 2011, the Department of Justice announced last fall. And both violent and property crime again rose several percentage points in the western United States in the first six months of 2012, the most recent period available, according to FBI crime statistics released Monday.

Phoenix saw a 15 percent increase in violent crime during that same period.

"We would rather see a decrease to violent crime, but we're proud to stay flat when other agencies report substantial increases," Jackson said.

Another key priority to help meet the department's goals will be hiring new officers and keeping the ones they already have. The department was rattled by retirements, injuries and officers taking jobs at higher paying agencies last year.

That left commanding officers assigning higher amounts of overtime and trying to meet their goals with even fewer staff-hours on the street.

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.

Flagstaff Crime

Year/Violent/Property

2012 - 265/2829

2011 - 264/3020

2010 - 269/2962

2009 - 287/3123

Source: Flagstaff Police Department

Flagstaff Crime

Year/Robberies/Agg. Asslt/Rape

2012 - 46/187/29

2011 - 38/185/41

2010 - 49/177/37

2009 - 53/187/43

Source: Flagstaff Police Department

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(1) Comments

  1. Fromthemiddle
    Report Abuse
    Fromthemiddle - January 22, 2013 2:25 pm
    This article is funny. We actually have fewer law enforcement in Flagstaff?
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