Austin’s crime drops in 2011

Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

9,572 offenses is more than 5-year average

Austin’s overall crime in 2011 was down significantly from 2010, but last year’s crime totals are still slightly high compared to the five-year average.

About 9,572 crimes were committed in Austin in 2011, compared to 10,461 crimes in 2010, according to the Austin Police Department annual report finalized Monday and released to media Tuesday.

Major crimes such as rape, aggravated assault, larceny and auto theft all dropped, though there were two more robberies in Austin in 2011 than 2010. By the same token, forgery and counterfeiting charges were almost cut in half last year, and police found a substantial decrease in DUIs.

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“We definitely are doing much more with less officers,” Police Chief Brian Krueger said Tuesday.

Though statistics can jump up or down from year to year due to a variety of factors, Krueger said the significant drop in DUIs probably corresponds with the department’s efforts to keep citizens informed about the consequences of drunken driving, whether through media reports or community functions like National Night Out.

“We’re very hopeful that that point is getting across to the public that they cannot continue to drink and drive,” Krueger said.

Though the drops in some crime come as good news, last year’s statistics were slightly higher than crime totals on average from 2007 to 2011.

What’s more, some statistics show cause for concern, such as the sharp spike in juvenile arrests in town. About 589 juvenile arrests were made in Austin in 2011, compared to 403 arrests in 2010. That doesn’t mean 589 juveniles were arrested, however, as some were arrested for multiple offenses.

Though Krueger said he doesn’t get too concerned about statistical shifts, he and other police will analyze last year’s stats to see what shifts in community policework can be made. Above all, Krueger stressed the improvement in proactive policing done by local law enforcement, such as an increased presence near bars at night, more burglary patrols, and more community involvement through scholarship programs, fundraisers and local events like the Police vs. Firefighters softball game or fingerprinting younger children at the annual Austin Home Show, which takes place March 23-25.

“The more interaction we have with citizens, I feel the better job we can do as law enforcement,” he said.