Deseret News Archives

Utah's low crime rate renders it one of the safest places to live in the nation. It's a distinction that chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and professional recruiters should be shouting from the rooftops.

It's also a distinction that elected officials, law enforcement officers and the general public should want to improve upon.

Elected officials must provide appropriate resources and keep abreast of crime trends that may require additional support. For instance, Salt Lake City officials need to redouble their efforts to replace the decrepit police headquarters in the state's capital city.

Just as members of the public should support the efforts of police, law enforcement officers must conduct themselves in a manner that commands respect and cooperation.

While Utah's crime rate — 46th in the nation — is enviable, there is considerable room for improvement. Utah ranks 21st in the nation for rape. For property crimes, Utah remains above the national average.

Utahns consider safety an important quality-of-life issue. The Utah Foundation's 2008 Utah Priorities Survey ranked crime and security as the state's sixth biggest concern.

By and large, Utahns are safe — and safer than in the past. The state's crime rate has plunged more than 30 percent since 1995, when it was 27th in the nation. The Utah Foundation report has no definitive explanation for the drop but notes that two factors may be at work: increased spending for police protection and an increase in the state's prison population.

If the researchers are correct in their theory that putting more officers on the street and locking up more criminals have a positive effect on crime reduction, government agencies must continue to make these efforts a high priority and build upon their effectiveness.