SPOKANE, Wash. -

Unfortunately crime has been and always will be part of society. It hurts every community, Spokane is certainly no exception, and our city like many its size struggles with a bad reputation, one that suggests crime is not only prevalent, but constantly on the rise here.

Going to crime scenes we hear neighbors and witnesses tell us crime was never this bad and things are getting worse. Is that assumption true? Is the city deteriorating? Are criminals taking over?

"Well I suppose in comparison to other places its not so bad., but its not good," Roberta Stehr said.

"I do feel like it is definitely increasing, for sure," Katie Wardell said.

It doesn't matter where you live, whether you're a victim or a concerned neighbor, crime is a part of the world we live in, and for whatever reason Spokane has an image problem. You may have heard the nicknames about the town that wants to be known as an All American City. So why is that? Maybe we just see it more.

"I think you do on television, if you watch television at all you're going to get it on the news," Robert Clemons said.

"Too much on TV, no matter which station you're on you're going to get something," Stehr said.

"We find out about things happening, you know immediately, where years back you had to read the newspaper to find out about that," Larry Marshall said.

"Heard of the Spokane News on Facebook, I kind of follow that it seems pretty obnoxious all the stuff that's going on," Wardell said.

Rapid fire tweets and Facebook posts give you up to the second police activity; some outlets even share scanner traffic with their followers.

"When that gets reported, it creates sometimes a picture that I think is not 100 percent accurate," Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.

Straub is new in Spokane but not to the world of law enforcement. He holds a PhD in criminal justice and has had a police career that spans the country. He said intensified media coverage is part of the issue but doesn't answer the question why do people think crime in Spokane is worse than ever?

"Crime is going down in the city of Spokane. It has been going down since January," he said.

In the two years before Straub got here some crimes were trending slightly upward but nothing more than small random spikes.

However looking at the numbers from over 20 years ago for the city and unincorporated areas of Spokane County property crimes were a lot more common in 1989 than they were in 2011.

The same goes for violent crime; the city and county had higher violent crime rates 20 years ago than they do now. So what gives?

"Your experience is very much colored by what has happened recently so if we have a couple shootings or we do have two or three burglaries or a big fight downtown, a bar related fight people say 'Oh my God' ... we tend to look at it over a longer spectrum," Straub said.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich knows that spectrum better than most with 20 years in law enforcement and the majority of it spent in this area.

"We're at the lowest level of violent crimes in the unincorporated areas in the last two decades," he said.

From patrol to the SWAT Team, Knezovich has served Spokane County under just about every rank and title the sheriff's office has to offer. He became sheriff in 2006, two years after a policy decision that would change the way people perceive crime in Spokane.

"One of the biggest mistakes ever made in local law enforcement. It was decided to close Crime Check down," he said.

The statistics for the county and city combined show a drastic drop in property crimes starting in 2004 but it wasn't that those crimes weren't happening.

"A lot of frustration, a lot of frustration at that time because people were used to Crime Check and when it went away people started to get frustrated and stopped reporting crime," Knezovich said.

They call it the Crime Check dip, and it helps explain why people think crime has spiked in Spokane. When the reporting system returned in 2008, naturally crime numbers came up to numbers more consistent with those before it went away.

"Nothing changed folks; that was because you couldn't report crime," Knezovich said.