Statistics from 2009 show Lincoln's crime rate fell 4 percent from 2008, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and Police Chief Tom Casady said Friday.
The total number of crimes fell from 11,381 to 10,985 -- the lowest since 1985 -- despite the fact Lincoln's population increased by 73,000 during the same time period.
The city's crime rate has declined 44 percent since its peak in 1991, Casady said. When adjusted for population, the crime rate is at its lowest since the early 1970s.
"We could not have achieved these results without the police department's focus on crime prevention and problem-oriented policing," Beutler said. "The department's sophisticated and effective policing strategies continue to result in lowering the crime rate and assuring the public that we live in a safe community."
Casady said Lincoln's crime rate reflects a national trend, "although Lincoln's decrease has been more significant and sustained."
Many crimes go unreported, so changes in reporting practices or habits can influence data, Casady said. But he said he knew of nothing last year that would have significantly changed reporting rates.
The department compiles statistics as part of the FBI's national Uniform Crime Reporting program.
In the seven areas tracked by the FBI, Lincoln had decreases in aggravated assaults, robberies, larceny-theft and auto theft. The city had four murders in both 2008 and 2009. Fifteen more rapes and 37 more burglaries were reported in 2009.
Crime data are reported to the FBI by more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide and serve as the basis for most published crime statistics, crime rate comparisons and historical comparisons.
Beutler commended police for achieving a record high 30 percent crime clearance rate in 2009, compared with a national average of 21 percent.
A higher incarceration rate and technology may contribute to the declining crime rate, Casady said.
For example, newer automobiles are more difficult to break into and steal, he said.
The proliferation of cell phones, video surveillance cameras, alarm systems and electronic databases also make it easier to catch criminals, he said.
Improvements to the department's CrimeStoppers Web site also have helped clear more cases, he said.
While new technology helps, Casady said it's people who solve cases.
"Our ability to target our resources and use information to our advantage is especially valuable," he said. "But in the end, good work on the street by our officers is where the credit rests."
Reach Hilary Kindschuh at 473-7120 or email@example.com.