Crime in Maine decreased in 2020 for the ninth consecutive year, the Maine Department of Public Safety said Monday.

The annual statistics are compiled by every law enforcement department in the state and reported to the FBI, which collates them nationally.

Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Sauschuck thanked the state’s police officers, and credited the reduction to their work.

“Maine’s law enforcement professionals and our amazing community partners have delivered a ninth straight year of crime reduction and we truly thank you for your compassion and dedication to our residents,” Sauschuck said in a statement. “Our complex world was complicated further with ongoing COVID related protocols and safety concerns, but you selflessly reported for duty.”

Despite the overall decrease in crime, concerns remain about underreported incidents of rape and domestic violence assault.

Researchers in Maine believe most rapes are not reported to law enforcement, and domestic violence victim advocates say the lower arrest figures for crimes related to domestic violence come as the number of people reaching out to hotlines for help remains high.

A survey about victimization conducted by the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine estimated that 14,000 people are raped each year in the state, according to Elizabeth Ward Saxl, executive director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, who said the isolation of the pandemic likely contributed to the decreased reports.

In 2020, 489 rapes were reported, down from 514 the year before.

Advocates for victims of domestic violence also saw the drop in reported offenses as a probable step backward.

“Sadly, the reduction in calls to law enforcement regarding domestic violence raises more concerns than hopes for the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence,” said the group’s executive director, Francine Garland Stark. “There has been no similar reduction in the numbers of domestic violence victims reaching out to our 24-hour helplines.”

Stark said the group provided assistance to 11,000 adults in crisis, and phone calls with abuse survivors increased 13 percent.

Overall, crime dropped 6.1 percent, and violent crime dropped about 5 percent. Murders remained unchanged, at 22 cases for 2019 and 2020, with five of the 2020 murders related to domestic violence.

One of the more dramatic reductions was in the number of arrests and summonses issued statewide.

Nearly 5,800 fewer adults were arrested or summonsed in 2020 than in the previous year, a drop of nearly 16 percent – for a total of 30,517 criminal violations. The decrease in juvenile arrests or summonses was even more stark, with 1,689 children charged criminally, down more than 800, or 32 percent, from the year before.

Law enforcement at all levels dialed back arrests for minor crimes and infractions in 2020, both to reduce jail populations and to reduce in-person encounters with the public during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maine’s crime rate is significantly lower than the national average. Last year, there were 14 crimes per 1,000 residents, compared to a national average of 25 crimes per 1,000 people. The state is even safer when it comes to violent crimes, with the statewide average at 1 incident per 1,000 residents, a quarter of the national rate.

Across the board, most categories of violent crime have decreased, including serious assaults, robbery, burglary and theft.

Some types of crime increased. Arson saw a significant one-year jump, up to 179 cases from 149 in 2019. Motor vehicle thefts were up as well, to 857 vehicles stolen, compared to 754 the year before.


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