We'd like to thank all those responsible for the violent crime rate in Oklahoma hitting a 10-year low last year. We just don't know exactly whom to thank.
Neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which tracks violent crime in the 50 states, nor the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which monitors and disseminates FBI figures, can say why the 2011 violent crime rate was the lowest since 2002.
Local police and sheriff's departments have a role in keeping the crime rate low. Social services agencies, district attorneys, judges, schools also play pivotal roles.
The good news about violent crime comes amid the bad news about the 2012 Oklahoma City homicide rate. By mid-September, the city had recorded more homicides than were reported for all of 2010 or all of 2011. Five were killed during a single weekend of violence. The homicide rate is on pace to pass the 75 murders posted in 2009, which had the highest number of homicides in a decade.
Just as we can't say why the state's overall violent crime rate is at a 10-year low, we can't say why this year has been so deadly. “It's hard to know what makes one year's homicide totals higher than another's homicide total,” Oklahoma City Police Master Sgt. Gary Knight told The Oklahoman last month when the number of year-to-date homicides passed 65. In 2009, 75 murders were reported.
The violent crime statistics were released about a month before voters will decide if the governor should be taken out of the pardon and parole process for all but violent crimes. This is the only state remaining where a governor is essentially asked to sign off on all parole recommendations.
Recent violent crime numbers peaked in 2008 with 18,128 incidents, compared with 17,630 last year.
So we don't know whom to thank. But we should all be thankful that violent crime is trending downward in Oklahoma.