Crime

Despite growth, Boise’s crime rate drops to 25-year low. But drug crimes are on the rise.

How do police know what drug it is? They test in the field

Terry Weir, a Boise Police neighborhood contact officer, demonstrates how police officers can test suspicious substances on the spot.
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Terry Weir, a Boise Police neighborhood contact officer, demonstrates how police officers can test suspicious substances on the spot.

Boise’s overall crime rate dropped to a 25-year low in 2018, even as the city topped lists as among the fastest-growing in the country, according to newly released crime data.

Mayor David Bieter touted this success at a press conference at Fairmont Park on Monday morning, according to a press release.

“These numbers are no mistake, but instead are the result of our deliberate strategic focus on community policing and creating a culture of resident engagement among our officers,” Bieter said in the release. “The result is that our community is growing and thriving, but crime is not.”

Boise is not alone.

Violent crime and property crime have dropped significantly nationwide since the early 1990s, according to Pew Research Center.

“In 2018, crime rates in the 30 largest U.S. cities declined for the second straight year, reaching near-record lows,” the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law reported in June.

One of the trouble spots for Boise is drug crimes. Narcotics violations increased 18 percent from 2017 to 2018, an increase attributed to the “growing scourge” of opioid addiction locally and nationally.

The city’s crime rate, which includes violent crimes such as murder and rape, was at 22.75 crimes per 1,000 people, compared with 58.36 crimes per 1,000 in 1994.

“A 63 percent drop in property crime since 1994 is a big part of why the overall crime rate is down,” Police Chief William “Bill” Bones said in the release.

William Bones
William Bones

“The drop in crime is not just a reflection of the police department but of all the hard work we have put in as a community,” Bones said. “Credit also goes to everyone who has helped build strong neighborhoods, invested in community schools, created opportunities for youth to be active, and worked together with businesses to build a strong and engaged community.”

City officials also noted that calls for mental health issues, including for people who are suicidal, continue to rise. The number of mental health calls police responded to has gone from 5,726 in 2005 to 9,686 in 2018.

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