Portland police: Crime down for 2nd straight year

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PORTLAND — The Police Department disclosed an array of encouraging downward trends in its annual crime report Monday.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck called 2011 a year of transition, in a press release accompanying the report.

“We had changes in leadership, implemented several successful new initiatives and as a result of effective and proactive police work experienced a second consecutive year of crime reduction,” the chief said.

The report shows that while calls for service in 2011 rose by 1 percent over 2010 and there were about 150 more arrests in the city in 2011 compared to the year before, the overall crime rate was down 7 percent.

The most notable drop was in violent crime, which was 22 percent lower in 2011 than in 2010. Property crimes decreased by 6 percent from 2010 to 2011. Domestic disputes and domestic assaults were also down, by 4 and 12 percent, respectively.

The city did see an increase, however, in forcible rapes, which rose to 39 in 2011, the highest in the three-year period provided in the report. There were 33 in 2010 and 31 in 2009.

Also, the number of arson cases tripled in 2011, increasing from six in 2010 to 18 in 2011.

Police also received slightly more calls for incidents involving drug overdoses, drug possession, and drinking in public in 2011.

The statistics showed that Wednesdays became the department’s slowest days in terms of the number of calls for service. That was credited to an increased number of calls on early Sunday mornings, attributed to the Saturday night drinking crowd getting leaving local bars. The average is 233 calls for service per day.

The report also detailed the results of the department’s new approach to behavioral health calls. The department now requires a behavioral health specialist to screen transcripts for all calls for behavioral health links.

The process led to a 386 percent increase in calls labeled as behavioral health-related. The department has also expanded the role of its mental health coordinator and behavioral health response programs to provide “short-term, crisis oriented case management” to those who need mental health services, but are not yet connected to the health-care system.

Andrew Cullen can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ACullenFore.