According to data provided by the Maine Department of Safety, violent crime in Maine has decreased from 2011 to 2012 by about .8%. While this is not a large decrease, it shows an optimistic pattern for the future. Statistics for four violent crimes were examined: rape, aggravated assault, robbery and murder. Between 2011 and 2012 reports for all crimes decreased by as much as 5.9% expect for one. Reports of robbery in 2012 not only failed to decrease, they actually rose. A small increase might not be something noteworthy, but this was not the case. Robbery in Maine reported a 13.8% increase from 2011 to 2012.
This large increase is cause for alarm. How is it that all other violent crime has decreased while one area has risen so sharply? The Governor and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) believe it has a lot to do with drugs. In a recent interview with the Portland Daily Sun, Maine DEA Commander Scott Pelletier talked about how drug crimes affect the violent crime rate:
“I think the biggest battle for us is violent crime,” Pelletier said, noting violence “is on the rise locally,” in the form of incidents such as bank robberies and pharmacy robberies. “These types of violent crimes are directly related to drug abuse and distribution,” Pelletier said.
Pelletier went on to say that in addition to the robberies, there were also 5 drug related homicides in 2012 in the State. He also spoke of several instances were drug arrests were made and the suspects had firearms in their possession leading police to believe they had either committed a robbery or intended on committing one in the future. Many robberies are believed to be caused by addicts that are desperate so for drug money, they will do anything. To many of them a robbery may seem like an easy way to make some money quick.
The positive thing to take away from this report is that, even though robberies have increased drastically in Maine, police are aware of the situation and believe that they understand the root cause. The MDEA is making continual efforts to get more funding in order to increase drug enforcement all over the state. The Portland Daily Sun writes about the cost of enforcement to taxpayers, saying:
The governor’s office reported that in 2010, the total estimated cost of substance abuse in Maine was more than $1.4 billion, translating to over $1,000 for every Maine resident.
This might appear to be a lot of money per person, leading some to question the effectiveness of the MDEA’s tactics. From 2011 to 2012, only a 1.8% decrease in drug arrests was reported despite many efforts to control drug abuse. 5,527 people were arrested for drug crimes in 2012, while 21.5% of those arrests were for selling or manufacturing drugs. It seems that drug abuse is a major cause of several types of crime in Maine. Perhaps new tactics such as more affordable drug treatment programs should be implanted to see if the abuse problem can be curbed.
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