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2011 NC reported crime rate remains lowest in decades

Release date: 7/12/2012

But AG concerned that fewer crime fighters make it harder to combat crime

Raleigh: Reports of crime across North Carolina fell by 0.9 percent while violent crime dropped by 5.2 percent last year, making the 2011 crime rate the state’s lowest since 1977, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.

 
The Attorney General welcomed the continuing low crime rate and said that enforcement requires continued investment to keep up with emerging crime trends. And while overall crime dropped, the murder rate rose, and some geographic areas saw increases in reported crime.
 
“When we invest wisely in law enforcement, the result is safer communities,” Cooper said. “It takes well-trained law enforcement using the latest technology to keep our crime rates low, and we need to make sure they have the tools needed to do the job.”
 
The overall rate of index crime per 100,000 persons in North Carolina decreased by 0.9 percent compared to 2010. The rate of violent crime per 100,000 North Carolinians dropped 5.2 percent according to reports submitted to the State Bureau of Investigation from law enforcement agencies across the state. Among violent crimes, rapes declined 2.8 percent; robberies dropped 4.1 percent; aggravated assaults were down 6 percent, and murders increased 5.9 percent.
 
The rate of property crimes—burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft—decreased by 0.6 percent statewide. Reports of motor vehicle theft fell 7.9 percent, while reports of burglary fell 0.9 percent and reports of larceny rose 0.4 percent. Arson, which is not included in the overall crime rate, dropped by 9.2 percent.
 
Juvenile arrests for index crime offenses fell 6 percent, while adult arrests for those offenses increased 2 percent. Juvenile arrests for all crimes dropped 7 percent, while adult arrest for all crimes fell 3 percent.

[Read the crime statistics 2011 Annual Summary Report and get detailed crime statistics.]
 
This marks the third year in a row that North Carolina has seen its lowest crime rate in decades and continues the state’s long term trend of falling crime rates. But Cooper is concerned that successive years of budget cuts are making it harder for law enforcement to do its job, especially as the state battles a surge in some crimes that aren’t included in the index crime rate, such as meth labs, prescription drug abuse, and child pornography and exploitation.
 
“We can keep reducing the crime rate with strategic use of crime solving techniques and personnel, like more DNA scientists, computer forensic experts, drug toxicologists, and SBI agents,” said Cooper, who joined with local law enforcement to call on legislators to do just that, but they refused and instead cut public safety statewide. “We will continue the fight but risk losing ground.”
 
This year’s budget cuts come at a time when law enforcement needs more officers, agents, and forensic scientists on the job and needs adequate pay to remain competitive, Cooper said. For example:
 
  • In a little more than four years, DNA submissions to the State Crime Lab are up almost 76 percent while toxicology submissions are up more than 19 percent. Meanwhile, the Lab has suffered cuts in forensic scientists and seen $300,000 slashed from its operating budget.
 
  • The SBI and the Crime Lab are losing highly trained agents and lab experts because they can’t afford to pay them adequately. The average salaries of SBI agents and forensic scientists hired in 2004 are 10.4 percent less than a highway patrol trooper hired at the same time, while the educational qualifications are much higher for becoming an SBI agent or forensic scientist
 
  • The Department of Public Safety will get 15,000 more probationers to supervise without getting any additional probation officers to supervise them.  It was the high number of probationers assigned to each officer that sparked reforms in the probation system after the murder of Eve Carson in 2008.
 
  • SBI agents busted a record number of meth labs last year (344) and are on pace to beat that record this year due to the spread of a new method for making the drug. More specially trained agents are desperately needed to help local law enforcement uncover and safely dismantle the dangerous drug labs but instead the legislature made substantial cuts.
 
  • Prescription drug abuse is a huge and growing problem in North Carolina, with more than 1,000 people overdosing on prescription drugs last year alone.  Agents who work prescription drug related cases have seen a 400 percent increase in cases over a five year period, but instead of providing more agents to detect drug misuse and abuse.
 
For more information about 2011 crime statistics, go to www.ncdoj.gov. Click “Crime,” then “View Crime Statistics.” To view or print a summary of 2011 crime statistics, click “2011 Annual Summary Report.” More detailed statistics will be available online in the coming days. The North Carolina Uniform Crime Reporting Program is part of a nationwide effort administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Media Contact:  Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413