Police: Dip in crime continues

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two-thirds of the way through 2009, statistics suggest that crime is, for the most part, still trending downward in Gwinnett.

A year-to-year analysis of crime reports through August 5 shows a double-digit decrease in violent crimes like carjacking (down 14 percent) and aggravated assault (12). The latter charge, in many cases, is the equivalent of attempted murder.

Commercial burglaries, which showed the greatest decline, fell 28 percent, while home break-ins decreased 9 percent, police said.

Gwinnett police Chief Charles Walters attributed the dip to attentiveness on the part of residents and dedicated officers.

Homicide also shows signs of slippage. Gwinnett police have worked two fewer homicides (21) between this year and last (23), continuing a downward trend since 2007 when a record 50 homicides were recorded. The department typically works the vast majority of homicides.

Homicides - a category that includes murder and other killings that aren't illegal, such as self-defense shootings - dropped more than 20 percent in 2008. It was the first time since 2004 the county has seen a decrease in killings between consecutive years.

Authorities have attributed the dip to efforts by federal and local authorities to derail drug trafficking in Gwinnett, along with other initiatives. The drug trade usually accounts for about half of homicides.

Major crimes that haven't decreased include rape, which remained the same year-to-year, and robbery, which climbed by 1.5 percent, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli.

He accredited the department's DUI task force with bumping the number of DUI arrests (1,863) up 16 percent from this point last year.