The foundation of Boise’s success and livability is the fact that our community is one of our country’s safest large cities. Without it, none of our city’s other blessings would mean nearly as much. That’s why during my time as mayor, we have worked tirelessly to make our safe city even safer – and those efforts have paid off.
25 Years of Crime Decline is No Mistake
Message from Mayor Dave Bieter
Earlier this week, we announced new statistics showing nearly 25 years of steady decline in the city’s overall crime rate. The Boise Police Department’s most recent crime report shows overall crime rates at their lowest point since the department started keeping consistent statistical crime data in 1992. Today’s overall crime rate is down 61 percent from its historic high in 1994, driven in large part by a 63 percent drop in property crimes.
These numbers are no mistake, but instead are the result of our deliberate strategic focus on community policing and creating a culture of resident engagement among our officers.
The 2018 numbers (the latest available) show a rate of 22.75 crimes per 1,000 residents in Boise, down from 58.36 in 1994. The new numbers also represent a 17 percent drop from 2017 and a 45 drop since 2003, when I first took office.
Much of this drop in the overall crime rate can in large part be attributed to a 63 percent drop in property crimes since 1994. The 16.7 percent drop in property crimes since 2017 was lead by an 18 percent decrease in shoplifting and vehicle burglary.
As Boise Police Chief Bill Bones pointed out, the drop in crime is not just a reflection of the police department but of all the hard work we have put in as a community. By building strong neighborhoods, investing in community schools, creating opportunities for youth to be active, and working together with businesses to build a strong and engaged community, we have all contributed to this trend.
But it would be wrong to overlook the role that the Boise Police Department’s proactive community policing style plays in this. By creating a culture where officers do not just respond to crimes but work to solve the root cause of problems. The create relationships and an environment of trust that encourages residents to take an active role in crime prevention.
Liaison officers who work with a specific segment of the community – such as school resource officers, refugees, the LGBT community, the NAACP and the Hispanic community – play a huge role in building these trusting relationships.
While we are proud of this success and trend, there are some areas of growing concern – especially in the areas of narcotics and mental health.
We’ve seen an 18.3 percent increase in narcotics violations that reflects how the nation’s growing opioids crisis is showing up locally. The impacts of this growing scourge in our community are clear and we are working closely with partners across the valley to educate our residents about the dangers of opioids, coordinate treatment options and create law enforcement strategies.
Similarly, a rise in calls related to residents with mental health issues, especially attempted suicides and suicidal subjects, has spurred us to look at how we can provide more tools for officers to help folks. Several years ago, the police department added a civilian mental health coordinator to help connect residents with services that could assist them. In addition, the department is piloting a project to add a uniformed officer in the role of a mental health liaison officer, to work with the mental health coordinator as a co-responder team. The team proactively works within the community to intervene by providing support to individuals in crisis and to those identified with a mental illness to work toward a positive result.
Providing a safe community is the most fundamental thing city government does. And just like all communities, ours has its challenges in this respect. However, it is very clear that while our community is growing and thriving, crime is not. This victory belongs to us all, and at the City of Boise we will continue to invest the resources that allow our office to be proactive in their work to keep us all safe.
As always, thank you for all that you do to make Boise the most livable city in the country.
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