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Alaska sees decrease in overall crime rates, though reported rapes increased in 2020

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 9:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - There’s been a decrease in overall crime rates in the state of Alaska — a trend James Cockrell, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said started back in 2018.

Crime rates went down in almost all categories in 2020, according to a report released this month. This includes reported violent crimes, which decreased by 3.7%, and property crimes, which decreased by 22.9%.

“We saw a decrease in property crimes, car thefts, even our homicide rates I believed dropped,” Cockrell said. “Overall, violent crimes in Alaska dropped almost 4%, which is a huge success I think (because) again we lead the nation in violent crimes.”

Cockrell said the COVID-19 pandemic, proactive policing and the repeal and replacement of Senate Bill 91 played a role in the decreases.

There was one category that wasn’t down in 2020: rape. The rate went from 151.3 to 156 per 100,000 people, with 1,135 offenses reported to law enforcement last year.

In a response to the report, Gov. Mike Dunleavy leaned on a program he introduced last month that is supposed to more efficiently process the state’s backlog of evidence gathered during sexual assault forensic exams, ease the tracking process for law enforcement and survivors, and aggressively collect DNA samples from offenders whose samples are required by law but were not collected.

“While the decline in crime rate numbers is a testament to the great work law enforcement and partners across the state are doing, we will not stop until sexual assaults and domestic violence are no longer a problem in our communities,” Dunleavy said in a release.

In the next legislative session, Dunleavy intends to introduce legislation to directly address sexual assaults and violent offenses in the state.

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