The total number of crimes reported in Maine dropped for the seventh straight year in 2018, according to data from the Maine Department of Public Safety released Wednesday, but there were more assaults and homicides than there were in 2017.
The total number of reported crimes has fallen by more than 40 percent in Maine since 2009, according to crime statistics compiled by the state. The number of crimes in Maine peaked in 2011, and has been declining ever since.
Crime statistics from the 10 most recent years of available data show that Maine continues to be substantially safer than the nation as a whole.
Maine’s violent crime rate in 2018 was 1.12 crimes for every 1,000 people, compared with 3.68 for the U.S. In 2009, Maine’s crime rate was 1.17 crimes for every 1,000 people, compared with 4.3 for the nation as a whole.
Overall, Maine’s crime rate for all offenses was 14.77 for every 1,000 people in 2018, down from 25.34 for every 1,000 residents in 2009.
The 9.3 percent decline in the number of overall crimes from 2017 to 2018 represented the largest percentage drop in crime in the past four years. The state saw the number of crimes reported fall in every category but adult arrests, simple assaults and homicides.
“Maine has traditionally been one of the safest states in the country and members of law enforcement truly appreciate the strong partnerships we have in our communities that have led to a seventh straight year of declining crime rates,” said Michael Sauschuck, commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Areas of rural Maine — those patrolled by the Maine State Police and county sheriff’s offices — last year saw a greater decrease in the number of crimes reported than towns and cities with their own police departments. The number of crimes reported in rural areas decreased by 13.3 percent between 2017 and 2018, while towns and cities with their own police departments recorded 8.2 percent fewer crimes.
One of the categories of crime that saw an increase in 2018 was homicides, but overall numbers remained low, with Maine consistently recording one of the lowest homicide rates in the nation. There were 23 homicides in 2018 — nine of which were related to domestic violence — compared with 21 in 2017.
Maine’s homicide rate in 2018 was 0.018 per 1,000 residents, compared with the national rate of 0.05, according to FBI statistics.
The number of simple assaults in Maine increased 4.7 percent between 2017 and 2018, to 9,972 reported assaults in 2018 from 9,527 in 2017. Other categories of assault — domestic assault and aggravated assault — saw decreases in their numbers between 2017 and 2018.
While reported crime in Maine is dropping, most crimes — especially crimes such as rape — are not reported to law enforcement. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ annual survey in 2018 reported that only 43 percent of the violent crimes it tracked were reported to police.