PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — Crime in Santa Monica and across the nation dropped in the first six months of 2011, according to statistics recently released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The preliminary Uniform Crime Report consisted of information gleaned from over 18,000 city, university, college, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies reporting out how many crimes in seven categories had been committed in the first six months of 2011.
According to the statistics, all four violent crimes reported — murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — decreased in the first six months compared to the first six months of 2010.
The same was true for the three categories of property crime, which include burglary, larceny or theft and motor vehicle theft.
The biggest drops in violent crime took place in cities the size of Santa Monica, with between 50,000 and 99,999 residents, while larger cities with between 100,000 and 249,999 inhabitants saw the largest drop in property crimes.
Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 12 rapes, 55 robberies, 518 assaults, 216 burglaries, 1,191 thefts, 77 motor vehicle thefts and three arsons were reported in Santa Monica.
Overall, the number of crimes reported in 2011 has dropped significantly compared to 2010, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department.
“Crime is down nine or 10 percent from last year,” Lewis said. “The numbers can be lower, we all want them to be lower than that.”
The police department aims to reduce crime by double digit percentage points every year, Lewis said.
“We’re at 9 percent, and we’re touching 10,” Lewis said. “We’ll determine how many crimes come in in the next [few] days to see if we achieve that.”
The FBI began putting together the Uniform Crime Report in 1930 after the International Association of Chiefs of Police requested it to meet a need for reliable crime statistics for the nation.
For the last 80 years, law enforcement agencies across the nation have reported the same information in order to create a consistent record.
That practice came under fire last year when activist groups protested the anachronistic definition of “rape” that the bureau used for the reports.
According to the FBI, rape was “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” a definition that excluded rapes against men, transgender people and other kinds of violations.
“Ms. Magazine” launched a “Rape is Rape” campaign to try and force the FBI to change the definition to something more representative of the number of sexual assaults and rapes that actually take place, which the magazine suggested could be 24 times higher than that which appeared in the report.
The campaign worked, said Bill Carter, a spokesperson for the FBI.
FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before Congress last week and confirmed that the definition would be changed to a “more modern definition,” Carter said.
Some states are expanding the kinds of information that they collect to include the nature and types of specific offenses in the incident, characters of the victims and offenders, types and value of property stolen and recovered and characteristics of people arrested in connection with a crime.
The new system, called the National Incident-Based Reporting system, would provide considerably more information than the Uniform Crime Report, but because the FBI relies on agencies to collect and report out the information, the more detailed reports are slow to spread, Carter said.
“It’s a matter of the states coming online,” Carter said.