RALEIGH — Do you feel safer this year than you did last year? North Carolina's semi-annual crime report reveals there was less violent crime in the first six months of this year than there was in 1997.
The statistics also show that we can all play an important role in fighting crime.
Community watch signs let would-be criminals know the community is watching for them. Now, there is new evidence that community watch and other crime prevention programs are working.
"We've done a lot of new and innovative things as it relates to prevention," Attorney General Mike Easley said. "I think that is beginning to show."
Easley says programs like community watch are partly responsible for a three percent drop in North Carolina's crime rate for the first six months of this year.
Easley says it is important to look at these numbers as part of a long-term trend. For the past five years, crime in the state has gone down.
Easley released his semi-annual crime report Wednesday morning, and commended local law enforcement officers across the state for the improvements.
For the first six months of this year, crime in North Carolina dropped 3 percent. Violent crime, which includes murder, rape, and robbery, fell 4 percent. And the most reliable indicator, the state's murder rate, went down by 3 percent.
Easley attributes the drop to the removal of the state's prison cap.
"I think that keeping the violent offenders in prison longer helps keep violent offenses down," Easley said.
One area that did not go down is the juvenile crime rate. Instead, the rate rose 2 percent.
Easley said, "I've been concerned about the juvenile crime increase for a period of time now. It has levelled off, which is the good news. The bad news is it levelled off at too high a rate."
Easley has some ideas about reducing the juvenile crime rate, as well. He would like the legislature to restructure the state's juvenile crime code. He'd also like to see improvements in education, like smaller class sizes.