Violent and property crimes are down in most Detroit-area communities over the last five years, with only a handful of inner-ring communities seeing upticks in crime, says the Detroit News. Technological improvements that help police and property owners are factors in the decline. Police can react more quickly and with precision because of sophisticated computer software, and theft of cars has become more difficult because of changes made by manufacturers. The drop in crime mirrors a national trend that has confounded criminologists. Some had suspected the recession would spur more crime but the opposite happened. “There really isn’t one clear-cut answer and there isn’t one thing (to explain the decline),” said Chris Melde, a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University.
The drop in crime came as police ranks were thinned across the state by budget cuts. Among cities that provided officer data to the FBI in 2007 and 2011, there were 1,320 fewer officers in 2011, a drop of 11 percent. Technology has been a big boost: In-car computers and access to databases allow officers to more quickly process arrests and traffic accidents, keeping police on the street. Police departments also are able to better share information between themselves; digital photos can be emailed and fingerprints can be processed in minutes rather than days. “They’ve learned to do more with less,” said Andy Arena, a former leader of the local FBI office who now heads the nonprofit Detroit Crime Commission.