Despite drug epidemic, Maine crime fell in 2016

PORTLAND, Maine (AP/WCSH) - Despite the drug epidemic, the Maine Department of Public Safety says crime in the state dropped 8.7 percent last year, for the fifth consecutive annual drop.

Public Safety Commissioner John Morris said Wednesday he's encouraged, but still concerned about drugs that are "the driving force" behind most crime.

"Drugs still affect all Maine law enforcement," Morris said, "with much of the drugs coming into Maine from out of staters affiliated with gangs."

The crime stats show arson increased 130 percent, rape nearly 3 percent and aggravated assaults about 9 percent.

Arson incidents were reported 209 times in 2016 compared to 91 the year prior. Public Safety said the increase "is primarily due to a new reporting system by the state fire marshal's office," which now includes fire marshals as the sole reporting agency, rather than police agencies.

Ten more rape incidents were reported in 2016 (383) than in 2015 (373). That's the second year in a row cases have increased, Public Safety said.

"These numbers are important and they represent significant trauma our fellow Mainers have endured," said Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault Communications Director Cara Courchesne in a statement released Wednesday. "And yet, this is barely the tip of the iceberg."

Other categories were down: Robberies, burglaries, thefts, simple assaults, car thefts and domestic violence. Burglary, theft and simple assaults have decreased in each of the last five years.

The official Uniform Crime Statistics don't include drug crimes. But state data shows drug arrests were down as well, by 9 percent.

Spokesman Steve McCausland said the numbers don't show the full toll the opioid epidemic is taking on Maine. Overdoses are claiming one life every day.

Gov. Paul LePage released a statement Wednesday, thanking law enforcement officials for their work in keeping the state safe:

"Maine continues to be one of the safest states in the country," Gov. LePage said. "Unfortunately, the flow of deadly drugs from out of state is still driving crime in Maine. Local and state police are putting their lives on the line for us every day to fight these crimes."

Below is a table that includes Maine's crime statistics from 2012 to 2016:

 

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

Overall Crime

-8.7%

-7.1%

-13%

-8.3%

-1.5%

Rural Crime

-7.3%

-3.4%

-16.7%

-12.8%

-7.4%

Urban Crime

-9%

-7.6%

-11.9%

-6.8%

-0.5%

Aggravated Assault

+9.4%

+1.8%

-4.6%

+17.4%

-4.7%

Simple Assault

-4.1%

-3.2%

-6.5%

-9%

-0.2%

Robbery

-14.5%

+2.3%

-9.3%

-20.4%

+13.8%

Burglary

-14.6%

-6.7%

-22.4%

-13.1%

-5.1%

Motor Vehicle Theft

-4.3%

+1.9%

-11.8%

-8.9%

-7.8%

Larceny-Theft

-9%

-8.3%

-10.9%

-7.3%

-0.1%

Arson

+129.7

-8.1%

-29.3%

-38.1%

-13.1%

Rape

+2.7%

+4.8%

-0.8%

-2.4%

-5.9%

Domestic Violence

-7.7%

-3.2%

-7.7%

-1.9%

+4.5%

Murder

18

25

22

25

26

Adult arrests

-3.4%

-5.3%

-2.4%

-1.4%

-1.5%

Juv. arrests

-9.2%

-9.7%

-14.1%

-13.4%

+0.6%

 

Copyright 2017 AP/WCSH


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