DETROIT (AP) Serious crimes dropped 5.7 percent in 2000 to the lowest recorded in the city in 30 years, Detroit police said yesterday.

The 95,759 major crimes committed from January 1999 through December are the lowest since the city began reporting the figures to the FBI in this manner in 1971, Police Chief Benny Napoleon said.

Homicides dropped 4.8 percent overall to 396, the figures show. Burglaries fell 13.4 percent and larcenies were down 7.6 percent.

Serious crimes reported to the FBI include homicide, rape, robbery, felonious assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

The number of rapes increased by 2.7 percent to 811. Robberies and felonious assaults increased by less than one percent.

“One rape is one rape too many,” Assistant Chief Marvin Winkler said. “Through education to the public, we hope to bring that number down.”

Napoleon attributed the overall decrease to a crime task force that began in 1998, more efficient crime prevention techniques by the police department and Mayor Dennis Archer.

After a 12.7 percent drop in crime in 1999, which Napoleon called a “grand slam,” he”s considering the 2000 drop “a triple with the bases loaded.”

“Well, certainly I think it is a significant step in the right direction,” he said, emphasizing the significance for southeast Michigan. “Detroit being seen as a safer city helps the region as well as the city of Detroit.”

Napoleon said while he realizes crime figures will eventually stabilize, he believes the decrease will continue for a few more years.

But the reputation of being a crime-filled city is going to take time to change, Archer said.

“We don”t enjoy the same presumption that other cities have of safety despite the fact that we have a safer city,” he said.

James Fox, Lipman professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston, said while the city”s crime rate may be at a 30-year low, it”s not that low when looking at the rate per thousand for comparable cities.

“Looking at your own track record, you”re doing very well,” he said. “But don”t brag.”

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