Crime dropped in almost every category in the first three months of 2007 when compared to the first quarter of 2006, according to statistics released today by the San Diego Police Department.

The overall number of crimes reported by the SDPD dropped 8.7 percent. Violent crime reduced in every major category n murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and, in total, violent crime dropped by 9.4 percent for the first quarter of 2007 over last year.

Property crime was also down, according to the police department numbers. Total property crime dropped 8.6 percent for the first quarter of 2007. Only burglary saw a rise n of 11.6 percent n over last year.

In the blazing sun at the Police Department’s ABLE Police Helicopter Hangar at Montgomery Field Airport, Mayor Jerry Sanders, Deputy Chief for Public Safety Jill Olen and Police Chief William Lansdowne stood in front of two of the police department’s brand-new police helicopters as they announced the news Monday.

Sanders said the crime statistics show that San Diego is one of the safest large cities in the United States.

“As far back as I can remember, our citizens have been protected by one of the smallest police forces in the nation,” Sanders said. “They have been doing a fantastic job.”

Sanders added that he hopes the recent labor contract negotiated between the police force and the city will help to address the department’s recruitment and retention crunch. In the last two years, the department has seen a considerable spike in the number of police officers leaving the SDPD for other local police departments. Last month, the department negotiated their first contract with the city in three years.

Lansdowne gave much of the credit for the dropping crime numbers to Sanders, who he said has done a great job equipping and supporting the police department in their work. Lansdowne said he was optimistic and happy at the numbers, but urged against complacency.

“The summer is always different,” Lansdowne said, “we may see a change.”

The mayor also announced at Monday’s press conference a $402 million budget for the police department. Included in that amount is $4.28 million in enhancements that, according to the Mayor’s Office, “were added to address the city’s ongoing public safety needs.”

Included in that $4.28 million is $1.9 million to fund the annual lease-purchase of the state-of-the art police helicopters and $2 million to fund operations at the new northwestern division police substation in Carmel Valley.


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