Durham, N.C. — Durham's crime rate last year was its lowest in a decade, although violent crime went up from the year before, according to statistics compiled by the police department.
The annual crime report for 2011, presented by Police Chief Jose Lopez to the City Council Monday, brought good and bad news to the Bull City.
The report states that Durham had 26 homicides in 2011, compared to 24 the year before. The number of reported rapes went down, but robberies and aggravated assaults went up.
Lopez said that violent crimes last year were down 25 percent since 2001 but up 5 percent over 2010.
Property crime, which accounts for 85 percent of crime in the city, dipped by 2 percent from 2010 to 2011 and plummeted by 31 percent in the past decade.
The largest year-over-year drop was in vehicle thefts, which fell by 16 percent, followed by 4 percent in larceny. Burglary went up by 5 percent.
The overall crime rate in the Bull City is also at its lowest point in over a decade. Between 2000 and 2011, the rate went down from 8,696 to 5,576 crimes per 100,000 residents.
"This accomplishment is the result of hard work by our officers and residents of our community," Lopez said in a statement. "Our department has followed a community policing philosophy for many years, and I believe that the partnerships established over the years have created positive change in our community."
Lopez credited initiatives taken over the past year targeting retaliatory violence, gun violence, organized retail theft, burglary, drugs and traffic violations. He praised on community education and prevention efforts, including sports camps, programs in elementary and middle schools, and intervention programs for substance abuse and mental health issues.
The chief cited the Traffic Safety Unit for being one of the few in North Carolina to have all its members certified as child safety seat installers or instructors.
"So many times I heard stories about officers who went above and beyond to help our citizens. They donated time and money to people in need and never asked for any recognition – they were true examples of public servants," Lopez said.
Continued cooperation between the public and the police will be the key to keep the crime falling in the future, the police chief said.
"One thing I do know for sure is that no matter what operation, initiative or action we take, the only common ingredient for success is sustained community involvement and partnership," he said. "The only way to maintain this involvement is by the community trusting the Durham Police Department and working with us to reduce crime in our community.
"We hope to continue to abate crime and work together as partners in 2012."