Tucson homicide rate up, property crime down
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The murder rate is falling through most of the country---but not in Arizona. Especially in Tucson where FBI stats say it's up about 46 percent when you compare 2010 to 2009.
Tucson Police say there's no single syndrome driving the homicide rate but drugs and gangs are a significant part of the problem and the department does focus resources against them.
TPD Sergeant Maria Hawke says the homicide rate may make large swings up and down from year to year.
2008 was Tucson's peak with 74 homicides.
Sergeant Hawke says the 40 homicides in 2009 was unusually low so that created a big percentage jump when homicides hit a much more typical 51 last year.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith said: "Your average person is still not going to be very comforted by the idea that a number in the fifties is average for homicides in their town."
Sgt Hawke: "If you keep in mind we are a large metropolitan area here and we do our best to keep those numbers low to the best of our ability obviously there are some things that people put themselves in greater risk when they're engaging in certain types of activities to be victims of homicide or victims of violent crime.">
Carol Gaxiola of Homicide Survivors says, "When it touches you and your family it doesn't really matter if it's an up year or a down year; for your family it has been a terrible year."
For Carol Gaxiola that terrible year was 12 years ago when her daughter was murdered. Now she leads Homicide Survivors which helps victims' families.
She worries that 50 homicides has become an average for a community the size of Tucson and thinks a commitment to caring about each other can help cut down crime.
"It's every aspect. It's in the schools, the churches, on the street, interactions in your neighborhoods, that creates an energy in your community that does create a safer community."
Property crime is far more likely than homicide to affect the average Tucsonan and there's good news there. It is down in Tucson, as it is in most of the rest of the country.