People were less likely to suffer major crimes in San Diego last year than any time since John F. Kennedy was president, officials said. Crime rates fell by 18%, the biggest year-over-year decline in six decades.
"San Diegans are less likely to be victims of crime now than any time since 1963," Mayor Jerry Sanders said at a press conference Wednesday.
Murder rates were down 25.5%, rapes were down 15.4% and robberies 5.6%, Sanders said.
The decline in rapes is significant. Rape had been the only violent crime to rise in the past few years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Police attributed the rise to an increase in date or acquaintance rape, and the city launched a campaign to educate high school and college students, according to the newspaper. These statistics would suggest the approach has worked.
Police also believe that a focus on curfew violations and gang crime helped drive down crime rates, according to the newspaper.
"Our police department has done an incredible job of keeping citizens safe, through a combination of aggressive tacts and creative thinking," Sanders said.
The city's 2010 budget could make these statistics difficult to replicate next year. In order to close a $179 million deficit, the city was forced to make cuts to police department, which will effect staffing and response times.
"We’ve taken some painful cuts within the Police Department that are going to require us to work harder than ever before and work in a more collaborative manner with all the different agencies within the county of San Diego,” Police Chief William Lansdowne told the Union-Tribune.
The San Diego Police Officers Association has issues with the crime statistics, which are based on crimes reported by the city to the FBI. The FBI only tracks major crimes, and does not include several categories of sex crimes. The union believes that a more accurate statistical report including all crimes could paint a different picture.