News In Brief: Police Department Reports Drop in Major Crime Rate

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Nearly five months after reorganizing its internal operations, the Berkeley Police Department reported in a press release Monday an 8.8 percent decrease in the city's Part One crime - which includes homicide, rape, robbery, theft and auto theft - from 2009 to 2010.

The statistics, which were compiled by the department's Crime Analysis Unit, include some of the city's lowest crime levels in five years. The number of robberies, for example, dropped by 18 percent, while the number of auto thefts decreased by 18.6 percent, Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said.

Kusmiss said that while the 8.8 percent drop in Part One crime was "good news," the department fell short of its goal of an overall 10 percent decrease.

As part of its internal reorganization in September, the department formed teams of detectives who worked on different types of crime - pairing, for example, homicide detectives with robbery detectives. The department also worked to improve communication about crime analysis, which entailed informing officers on the street about trends in their area and time of patrol.

Kusmiss said the drop in crime may be attributed to small changes in residents' lifestyles, which can be as simple as not leaving valuables in the car and locking the door when leaving the house.

"We have seen that approximately 40 percent of all of our Berkeley residents' robberies are because of unlocked doors and unlocked windows," she said. "We want to remind residents that Berkeley is a city challenged by crime. There are a lot of laptops, a lot of people, a lot of cars, a lot of iPods all here in a small space."

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