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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The City of Las Cruces saw an overall decrease in crime in 2012 compared to the prior year, according to data compiled by the Las Cruces Police Department.
Overall there was a one percent decline in crime, but there were specific areas that saw significant drops and the department has a 76 percent rate of crimes cleared with arrests or exceptional measures.
"The City of Las Cruces average is 56 percent when it comes to violent crimes cleared," said Police Chief Richard Williams.
The national average according to the FBI is about 47 percent.
Williams said sometimes cases are cleared either by arrest or exceptional measures.
Exceptional measures can be when a victim does not want to cooperate with police or possibly when the offender committed a crime elsewhere and will not be extradited.
Overall violent crimes such as aggravated assault ape and robberies saw a seven percent drop.
Crimes like theft, burglary and arson dropped by three percent but only about 25 percent of those crimes reported were cleared by an arrest or other means.
Williams said the difference in clearing those crimes compared to violent crimes, is there's typically more evidence for violent crimes.
"A lot of times we have a victim who's willing to talk to us who can provide us with information and who can provide us leads that allows us to follow up on those cases," Williams said.
The department also saw a 24 percent decline in DWI's, according to the report.
"Through all the public information campaigns, through all the enforcement and through some of the high visibility enforcement you see at check points it's our hope that the message is finally getting out to people not to drink and drive," Williams said.
The chief said a big part of the department's success comes in analyzing data monthly and determining where to place resources to help deter crime.
This legislative session they are asking lawmakers to help fund a new records management system that will help analyze data and predict future crime trends.
"That puts us in a more proactive mode so that we are more proactive as opposed to reactive to crime," Williams said.
The department is also looking at a $3 million crime lab that would help expedite evidence in certain cases that sometimes has to be sent up north for analysis.
The state currently has a lab locally but does not process certain evidence such as DNA.
"If you can analyze your evidence quicker and get your evidence back to the detectives, it could provide further leads and it can ultimately provide to the arrest or apprehension of the offender," Williams said.
Chief Williams said they have been working with state legislators and have been up to Santa Fe to try and bring in the new resources to Las Cruces.
Williams believes it's going to come down to how much money is available in the budget.
He added the city is willing to pick up the costs of staffing a crime lab in order to expedite the process of looking at evidence.
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