ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In the past three decades, serious crime decreased in Anchorage even as the city grew, but FBI crime statistics show there were two exceptions: rape and burglaries.
According to Thursday's Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/bWBRhV ), the FBI's Uniform Crime Report says that there were fewer total crimes reported in 2011 than in 1981 in Alaska's largest city. The crime report includes data about murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor-vehicle theft, and larceny and theft.
It says that overall crime in Alaska's largest city decreased 6 percent last year, but forcible rape rose from 264 in 2010 to 283 cases in 2011. That is the most in the past 30 years.
The data indicates that the actual rate of rape per 100,000 residents has remained about the same as it has been for the last 10 years.
Police Chief Mark Mew said the statistics also show a dark side to the city, which has the attention of city officials.
"We asked ourselves, 'What can we do here? What are we doing wrong? What could we do better? Other than just working cases and trying to make cases, what can the Anchorage Police Department do?" Mew said.
He said the police department has put in place initiatives that involve better education for potentially vulnerable women. That's everything from posting informational newsletters in restrooms at restaurants and bars to setting up a new website with rape-prevention and response tips.
Rapes in Anchorage tend to occur or are initiated downtown and involve over-consumption of drugs and alcohol, he said.
"If we can work on those two conditions, we may be able to make some secondary reductions in sexual assaults. That would also probably bear on our other two goals, being (reducing) domestic violence and the issue of traffic fatalities," Mew said. "We're paying a lot of attention to alcohol abuse these days."
Decreasing substance abuse could also lower other violent crimes, such as murder, the police chief said.
According to police, the number of murders and non-negligent homicides in Anchorage dropped from 14 in 2009 to 13 in 2010 and 12 in 2011.
However, so far in 2012, Anchorage has seen 14 homicides. All but two of those have been solved, police said.
"One homicide is too many," Mew said. "I don't know what the rest of the year holds. Obviously that's a number we watch closely and are concerned about it."