Crime decreased in Phoenix last year for the first time since 2004, says the Arizona Republic. Police are crediting a new strategy of tracking crime patterns in real time and devoting more officers to areas with the worst problems. The violent crime rate, measuring the number of crimes per 100,000 people, fell 2.5 percent in 2007, with the property crime rate decreasing 2.4 percent.
Last year, police benefited from having caught suspects in the “A.M. Rapist,” “Baseline Killer,” and “Serial Shooter” cases, freeing up hundreds of officers who had been working those cases full time. They began to see the fruits of a program that uses statistical mapping to show where crimes are occurring; this helps police identify “hot spots,” or areas with a high concentration of criminal activity. New York City pioneered this technology and asserts that it helped significantly reduce crime. Two Phoenix programs, Operation Stabilization and Operation Safe Streets, have focused on gang violence, resulting in more than 3,600 arrests, including nearly 500 gang members and the seizure of 270 weapons since July.