Dallas police tout drop in crime

January 1, 2008 8:19:50 AM PST
Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle says violent crime here will be down 12 percent for 2007 and overall crime will be down about 4 percent. Murder though is up about 8 percent for the year, with at least 202 dead. Dallas last saw an annual increase in murder in 2004, when slayings were up 9 percent and 244 were killed.

According to preliminary end-of-the-year statistics, which will not be finalized until next week, 2007 will end with the city nearly meeting Kunkle's 5 percent overall crime reduction goal, but falling far short of the 5 percent reduction in murders.

But at a news conference Monday, Kunkle focused on the good news, saying that 2007 was the sixth year in a row of declining violent crime.

"Looking at the crime statistics over time, violent crime is down to the lowest level since the 1960s," he said.

Kunkle on Monday said he expects to end 2007 with dramatic drops in aggravated assaults, which are down about 24 percent, and rapes, which are down more than 20 percent.

Those crimes were two of several the department recently realized it had been overcounting for years and has in the last couple months been correcting. Other crimes for which changes were made include vehicle burglaries, business robberies, shoplifting and other thefts.

The department realized that in many categories, Dallas was not following the rules of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the annual nationwide roundup for crime statistics.

Kunkle said he did not know what portion of the estimated 4 percent overall drop is because of the new accounting methods. He said that by next week, when the department is expected to release its final 2007 statistics, the impact of the reclassified crimes will be more clear.

For years, police have battled a perception that the city is particularly crime ridden. That has been driven mainly by annual statistical comparisons that show Dallas has more crimes per capita than any other city over 1 million people.