By DAVE COLLINS
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) _ Violent crime in Connecticut dropped nearly 10 percent in 2014 over the previous year, among the largest decreases in the country and one that followed a 10 percent decline in the state in 2013, according to new data on reported crime released Monday by the FBI.
Joined by state and local police officials at a news conference at state police headquarters, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said crime in the state is at a nearly 50-year low. He credited a variety of factors, including the work of police officers, state criminal justice policy reforms and efforts against drug addiction and homelessness. The crime drop mirrors similar declines across the country over the past several years.
“Our focus has been on reducing crime, not building more prisons,” Malloy said. “It has been about investing in permanent reform instead of permanent punishment.”
There were about 8,500 reported violent crimes in Connecticut last year, a 9.7 percent decrease from 2013, according to the Uniform Crime Reports compiled by the FBI. They included 86 murders and non-negligence homicides, a 5.5 percent decrease over the previous year, and 782 rapes, a 12.2 percent drop. Robberies were down 11 percent, and aggravated assaults dropped 8 percent.
Violent crime in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven declined 4 percent, 6 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Malloy said violent crime in the cities is also down this year, though Hartford has had an increase in homicides.
Property crimes, meanwhile, declined 3 percent to about 6,900 last year.
Violent crimes nationally dipped only 0.1 percent. Connecticut’s 9.7 percent decrease was the fourth-largest drop in violent crime of any state behind Vermont (19.7 percent), Rhode Island (14.6 percent) and New Hampshire (11.9 percent).
Connecticut’s violent crime rate was about 237 crimes per 100,000 people, lower than the national average of 376 per 100,000.
Malloy said he expected crime to continue declining in Connecticut because of the efforts in recent years and the state’s new Second Chance Society law. The statute was proposed by Malloy and approved by the legislature this year to help nonviolent offenders stay out of jail or reintegrate those in prison back into society, as well as to reduce and prevent drug addiction.
Dora Schriro, commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said Connecticut also has seen a large drop in the number of firearms being used in homicides and assaults. She believes some of that decrease is because of the stricter state gun laws passed in 2013 after 20 children and six adults were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Schriro said crimes committed with a gun were down nearly 5 percent in 2014 compared with 2013, and down nearly 17 percent since 2010.
In 2014, there were 51 firearms used in the more than 80 homicides, a 54 percent decrease from 2012. Also last year, 617 firearms were used in more than 4,400 aggravated assaults, a 13 percent drop since 2012.
“I think it’s really very promising,” Schriro said of the new violent crime statistics. “The data’s impressive, but it’s the policies and the people who make them possible.”