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County attorney touts drop in crime in Arizona

(AP Photo)

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office says there’s some good news about crime in Arizona.

Even though the overall crime rate in Arizona is higher than the national average, it is at its lowest level since 1963.

The crime rate in Arizona dropped faster than the national average last year. There were about 3,443 crimes per 100,000 people in the Grand Canyon state, a 3.39 percent decrease from the year before. Nationally, crime dropped 2.58 percent with roughly 2.870 crimes per 100,000 people.

But Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says crime dropped in nearly every category in Arizona last year, and one in particular stands out. “Our murder rate is at an all-time low,” Montgomery said. “In fact, our murder rate now is below the national murder rate.”

The national murder rate jumped 10 percent nationwide last year to 4.9 per 100,000. In Arizona, the rate dropped 2.1 percent to 4.5 per 100,000.

There were also reductions in rape, property crime, and vehicle theft, and there were fewer arrests for DUI.
Montgomery added that even though Maricopa County is a destination county for drug smuggling and related crimes, Arizona did much better than California, Texas, and New Mexico, who also share a border with Mexico.

“Our crime rates fell faster than other border states in six out of eight categories,” Montgomery said. “The only place where we did not have a bigger drop in crime had to do with aggravated assault and robbery.”

Robbery is up, but only slightly at 0.7 percent.

“Statistically, we would say that’s insignificant, but you would have to go back to 1968 to find a robbery rate lower than what we have right now,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery says one reason for the drop in crime is Arizona programs that are keeping criminals from being repeat offenders.

“We’re seeing more and more intervention services and programs utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy, which has proven, over time, to be successful at reducing recidivism,” Montgomery said. He added that diversion programs for juveniles are also helping to reduce the rate.