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FBI: Violent crime continues to decline in Northwest

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The FBI says violent crime dropped 6 percent nationwide in 2010. Northwest states are following that same trend, but see less improvement when it comes to property crime rates.

Violent crime is dropping year after year despite economic struggles, despite early releases of prisoners to save money and despite layoffs of cops on the beat.

University of Washington Tacoma criminologist Alissa Ackerman says there's no simple explanation for safer streets. It's most likely a combination of factors starting with an aging population.

"Criminologists cite changes in demographics, meaning people are aging out of criminal behavior," Ackerman said.

Other explanations include smarter police work and decreased methamphetamine production.

In the Northwest states, property crimes did not show the same drop as did violent crime. Professor Ackerman says rates of theft and burglary could be connected to economic hard times but the correlation is probably stronger to drug addiction.

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Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.