Crime in Maine dropped 9.1 percent last year, a steep drop from the previous year and the biggest decline in 20 years, Maine Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris said Tuesday.
The commissioner, joined by Gov. Paul LePage, said criminal activity dropped in every category in 2013 except aggravated assault, which increased more than 17 percent. For previous years, crime overall dropped 1.5 percent in 2012 and 2.8 percent in 2011. It rose 3.6 percent in 2010 and dropped 1.8 percent in 2009.
Last year’s decline was the biggest since 1993 when the state recorded a 9.4 percent decrease in crime.
“It’s wonderful to have good news for a change,” Morris said.
Crime in Maine’s rural areas dropped more than in its cities, nearly 12 percent and nearly 9 percent, respectively.
The rate for violent crime last year was the same as in 2012 — 1 offense per 1,000 residents.
While crime overall was down, illegal drug activity appeared to be on the uptick, Morris said. He blamed an influx of out-of-state drug dealers from southern New England states, New York and Pennsylvania coming to Maine to distribute crack cocaine, heroin and oxycodone.
The Republican governor criticized the Democratic-led Legislature’s rejection of his proposal to add 10 new drug enforcement agents and other officials.
Democrats said they were willing to compromise, but killed the proposal on the last night of the session in May after the governor said he’d veto it if it was amended.