The number of murder, manslaughter and forcible rape cases reported in Nebraska increased in 2011 despite an overall drop in violent crime statewide and nationally, state officials said Thursday.
The Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice announced that law enforcement agencies received 53,285 crime reports in 2011, a 2 percent increase from the previous year.
The number of murder and manslaughter cases, which are counted as one category, rose from 54 to 65 — a 20 percent jump. Forcible rape cases reported grew from 627 to 663, but robberies and aggravated assaults declined. Statewide, the number of violent crimes that were reported dropped 8 percent last year, to 4,420.
Michael Behm, the commission's executive director, said the increase in murder, manslaughter and forcible rape cases ran counter to national declines.
Crime in Omaha increased 7 percent, to more than 21,000 offenses last year. Lincoln experienced a 3 percent decrease, to about 11,200 reported cases.
Lincoln Police Capt. Jim Davidsaver said it was difficult to know for sure what caused the decline, but he credited the department's team policing efforts that encourages residents to pick up trash, fix broken windows and address other neighborhood problems.
"To some people, it may seem small and inconsequential," Davidsaver said. "But tending to all of those matters helps maintain cooperative communication with the community" and reduce crime.
Davidsaver said the increase in forcible rape cases is difficult to interpret, because many sexual assaults go unreported. He said the increase could mean that more women are reporting the crime.
The report says property crimes — burglary, theft and motor vehicle thefts — all increased, but the number of arsons tumbled 18 percent.