Property and violent crime trended downward throughout 2020, according to data from the Anchorage Police Department.
Most notably, the homicide rate dropped by about half compared with 2019. Police chief Justin Doll said during a Public Safety Committee meeting last week that there are notable declines in many sections of property and violent crimes throughout the municipality.
While it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the declines and how much the pandemic may have been a factor, Doll said he believes some of the decreases could be tied to anti-violent crime initiatives the department has introduced in recent years.
Calls for service related to theft and burglary have declined steadily throughout the last few years, according to police data. In 2020, there were just less than 3,000 calls about thefts while there were 5,092 during 2017 — marking a roughly 41% drop during the last four years. Burglaries saw a similar drop, with 1,610 calls for service during 2020 compared with 2,793 in 2017, police data showed.
Calls for service about vandalism and driving under the influence have stayed steady, with no significant changes throughout the last few years.
There was a notable drop in stolen vehicles from 2018 to 2019, but Doll said the calls for service in 2020 were just slightly below what they were in 2019.
Calls for service about assault, sexual assault and robbery also decreased during 2020, according to Anchorage police data. Doll said the most notable change involved sexual assault calls — there were 549 calls for service in 2020, down from 723 calls in 2019.
Eighteen people died by homicide in 2020 — a significant drop from the 35 victims the year before.
“Homicides still remained a mix of street crimes that turned violent and also some homicides involving domestic violence,” Doll said. “And so both of those are issues that we continue to look at for things that we can do to have an impact.”
During a December interview, Doll said he did not believe the decreases were entirely caused by the pandemic, but that it could be a contributing factor to some categories. Across the country, crime rates increased during 2020 in both large cities and small towns. Doll said during the meeting last week that the department is still looking into what may have caused crime rates in Anchorage to decrease.