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Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 6:07am

Crime Drop Surprises Some

Crimes against people and property are down in Georgia, as well as the nation. And the latest statistics from the FBI surprise some criminologists.

Across the state, there were 39,072 violent crimes in 2010 compared to 42,073 the previous year, which represents a 7 percent drop. And the fall in property crime was 2.3 percent.

Both categories experienced similar drops nationwide. In the case of violent crime, it was a fourth straight year-to-year drop, and for property crime, down for an eighth straight year.

The data goes against conventional wisdom that suggests crime spikes in a down economy. Professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgia State University Robert Friedmann says he and his colleagues aren’t sure how to read the trend.

“Frankly criminologists are a bit baffled by how is it that given the grave economic situation the crime statistics are not complementing it so to speak.”

Different approaches in community policing may be part of the reason, but Friedmann says "it’s probably more limited than some people would like to believe, but it’s more extensive than what others might argue.”

He says many local law enforcement agencies are trying a more proactive approach.

“...that is trying to understand where crime takes place, why does it take place, what could or should be done, in order to mitigate, minimize and make an impact to produce less crime.”