Crime down virtually across the board in Wichita last year, police say

WICHITA _ Crime fell significantly in Wichita last year, and not just in one area.

Numbers were down pretty much across the board, Police Chief Norman Williams said today: homicides, rapes, robberies, residential burglaries, larcenies and auto thefts.

"It was an encouraging year," Williams said in opening his annual review of crime statistics for the city of Wichita.

Overall, crime fell 5 percent in Wichita last year, according to statistics compiled by the police department. The number of major crimes, such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, fell more than 7 percent.

Of the seven major crime categories, only one _ burglaries _ saw an increase in 2010 over the previous year. That increase was the result of a nearly 25 percent increase in nonresidential burglaries _ which involve structures such as detached garages and storage sheds.

Wichita also saw the number of traffic fatalities jump by nearly 40 percent last year, to 29. That increase occurred despite substantial declines in the number of injury accidents and collisions in which alcohol was involved.

A similar dichotomy appeared in motorcycle statistics.

The number of collisions involving motorcycles fell 13 percent, to 149. But the number of motorcycle fatalities nearly doubled, from 6 to 11.

DUI arrests climbed 17 percent over 2009, to just under 2,100.

Williams credited a combination of aggressive enforcement and residents providing good information to officers and investigators for the reduction in crime.

That will have to continue for the downward trend in Wichita's crime numbers to persist, he said _ particularly in light of budget cuts.

"We couldn't have done it without the community," Williams said. "They have been the eyes and ears of law enforcement."

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