Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Violent crime in the Las Vegas Valley dipped in 2013 while property crimes rose, according to recently released FBI statistics.
The national report offers a glimpse of how cities in the valley compare with each other and how the valley compares with other metro areas.
But the FBI also cautions against such rankings, citing regional differences and inconsistent participation from law enforcement agencies.
“The way that the FBI collects data is very different from the way we collect it on a local level. They have to make categories very broad in order to include agencies across the country, so the numbers aren’t always going to match,” said Metro Police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer. “It’s a very complicated system.”
The FBI’s analysis of the Las Vegas Valley tallies crimes reported by Metro and police departments in Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Mesquite, as well police with UNLV and the Clark County School District.
Here are four takeaways from the new statistics:
Las Vegas' crime rate is high compared with the national average.
The valley’s police departments reported a combined rate of 678 violent crimes per 100,000 residents last year. That's down about 3 percent compared with 2012. Property crimes, meanwhile, inched up by 2 percent to 3,017 per 100,000 residents.
Las Vegas' violent crime rate is 59 percent higher than the national average and its property crime rate is 10 percent higher.
Nationally, violent crime was down 5 percent in 2013 compared to a year earlier and property crime was down 5 percent.
Sacramento, Denver and Salt Lake City — western cities with populations comparable to Las Vegas — also had considerably lower violent crime rates than Las Vegas. Sacramento and Denver also had lower property crime rates, though Salt Lake City’s was 36 percent higher.
The valley’s violent crime dropped because aggravated assaults fell sharply.
The rate of aggravated assaults fell 9 percent.
Crimes in all other documented violent categories — homicides, rapes and robberies — were up. Metro reported 97 cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter — up from 76 last year. That drove its murder rate up 18 percent. Henderson’s murder caseload, meanwhile doubled to eight.
Valleywide, rapes and robberies were up a combined 6 percent from the year before.
North Las Vegas saw the biggest jump in crime overall.
In North Las Vegas, the violent crime rate was up by about 5 percent with 800 incidents per 100,000. Robberies spiked the most, while homicides were down by half to seven last year.
Property crime also rose by 6 percent, with burglaries accounting for the biggest jump.
North Las Vegas’ overall crime rate last year was 3,446 incidents per 100,000 — a 6 percent uptick from 2012. Metro’s rate stayed flat, while Henderson’s fell slightly by 2 percent.
North Las Vegas Police spokeswoman Chrissie Coon said that while it’s hard to guess what prompted more incidents, one factor could be a reduced police force. North Las Vegas hasn’t hired a new officer since 2009 despite losing 70 since. Today it has 262.
“I think the only thing that’s been consistent is that we have seen a steady decrease of officers that we have on the street. Whether or not that’s contributed to it, there’s no way to know for sure but that certainly can have an impact,” Coon said.
Henderson is still considered a safe place.
Law and policy website Law Street Media ranked Henderson fifth on its list of top 10 safest cities in the country with a population of more than 200,000. Henderson moved up a spot from last year’s list.
The safest cities on the list, in order, are Irvine, Calif.; Gilbert, Ariz.; Fremont, Calif., and Santa Clarita, Calif.
By contrast, the group ranked Detroit the most crime-riddled city in America.