56% of Utah voters responding to the statewide Utah Priorities Project survey rated crime as an important concern, ranking it at 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Their responses placed the issue at #7 on the top ten list of voter concerns for 2016.
At the same time, crime rates in Utah have steadily declined over the past couple of decades. A research brief published today by Utah Foundation cites statistics from the FBI and the Utah Department of Public Safety showing violent crime rates in Utah have dropped 34% from 1995 to 2014, compared to a national decrease of 45%.
There are some exceptions in the most recent data. Homicides were up by 10% in 2014, with 56 incidents of murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Rape was up 8% with 994 reported incidents, though it had been lower in previous years and did not exceed the 10-year average for that crime.
Aggravated assaults are the most frequent category of violent crime. Accordingly, this helps keep overall violent crime rates down since the 2014 per-person aggravated assault rate was 13% below the 10-year average.
The property crime rate is also substantially below the 10-year average – 10% overall, with the burglary rate 26% below average.
Shawn Teigen, Research Director at Utah Foundation, noted that the concern people have toward crime somewhat aligns with the reality of crime in the state. “It makes sense that people are concerned about crime, particularly violent crime. While violent crime has been trending down for years you still see spikes, like July 2016 having the most homicides in one month since 2007.” Shawn went on to note that even with over half of survey respondents showing a high level of concern, “there are still a lot of priorities that rank higher for Utahns, like healthcare, air quality, and education.”