APD data shows overall decrease in crime across municipality

The department’s numbers from 2020 also indicate largely downward trends over years past
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 12:10 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - New data recently released by the Anchorage Police Department details crime rates across the whole of the municipality, with most categories showing a drop in incidents over the course of 2020 as compared to previous years as well as a decrease within the same year as compared to earlier quarters.

“Quarter four was sort of a continuation of the earlier part of the year,” said Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll. “And the downward trend that we were seeing [...] We’re looking at years sometimes for results, and not just quarters.”

Doll noted homicides being down by almost 50% compared to 2017 and 2019, years with record- or near-record-highs for the city. An APD chart shows 36 homicides reported in 2017, 29 in 2018, 35 in 2019, and 18 in 2020.

Considering less serious crimes such as property crimes calls for service, APD data shows theft, burglary and stolen vehicle calls for service have all decreased each year since 2017.

There were 5,092 reports of theft in 2017; 4,272 in 2018; 3,851 in 2019; and 2998 in 2020. Burglary numbers show there were 2,793 reports of those in 2017; 2,499 in 2018; 2,005 in 2019; and 1,610 in 2020.

Stolen vehicle reports also showed a significant drop year over year, with 2,974 in 2017; 2,758 in 2018; 1,553 in 2019; and 1,192 in 2020.

DUI’s and vandalism have remained relatively stable, according to the same data set. In 2017, APD received 1,559 reports of DUI’s, and in 2020, the department took 1,556. Just under 100 more were reported in 2019.

Vandalism reports also only fluctuated, with 967 incidents in 2017, just over 1,000 in both 2018 and 2019, and 899 in 2020.

As for other violent crimes, calls for service went down for categories including assault and robberies over the course of 2017 through 2020.

The first year, 3,997 assault incident reports were taken, dropping by 100 or more for each of the next two years, before dipping to 3,291 for 2020. Reported robberies went down steadily from 714 in 2017 to 532 for last year.

However, sexual assault and domestic violence numbers — which are widely considered to be under-reported in general — saw little change year to year and also remained relatively stable, available data showed.

After an increase from 695 in 2017 to 703 in 2018 and 723 in 2019, there was a bit of a drop for 2020, with 549 reports of sexual assault that year.

The department is still working on the data for domestic violence in quarter four of the last year, according to an APD spokesperson, but the records starting at the beginning of 2017 and going through the third quarter of 2020 show a quarterly high of 870 domestic violence-related assaults.

The quarterly low for the same period and also for domestic violence-related assaults was 709.

Annually, these incidents totaled 3,172 for 2017, in tallying up department data; 3,188 for 2018; and 3,184 for 2019. There were 2,169 reports through the first three quarters of 2020.

Records show, too, that shots fired calls for service are down from 2017, but up slightly from 2019, with a total of 1,184 noted for the duration of 2017 through 2020. There were 351 of those in 2017, 273 for 2018, 260 for 2019, and 300 for 2020, according to APD.

“It’s a piece of the overall puzzle,” Doll said. “What we’re looking at is, How does that fit in? What do those numbers mean? If we’re seeing declines everywhere else and those numbers are steady, is there something we can do with shots fired calls to maybe interrupt that cycle of violence earlier?”

Still, Doll said, that while less crime, in general, is good news, there’s still work to do to continue to improve Anchorage for all.

“Obviously, zero crime would be the best,” he said. “But I think that’s a goal to work towards.”

A large project that’s begun while the department remains under the leadership of Doll — who is set to retire as chief this summer — is a revamped information technology setup, which will also include overhauling how the department manages evidence and data.

Portions of the new system are already in place. Doll said he believes the changes could be complete by early 2022.

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