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Worcester Crime Stats Mask Problem Areas

Friday, November 09, 2012

 

The Worcester Police Department released statistics showing a 4 percent drop in crime during the first ten months of 2012, but local officials said the city-wide measurements may be glossing over the neighborhoods where crime is still up.

The new statistics show a reduction in crime throughout the City compared with figures from the first ten months of 2011. Through October of this year, there were 4.1 percent fewer incidents reported in Worcester, and the number of arrests dropped by 2.8 percent compared with data from last year.

"The positive trend in most of the crime and disorder statistics as compared to the first 10 months of 2011 reflects the reality that Worcester is a safe community," said Chief Gary Gemme.

"The department continues to place our emphasis on responding safely and effectively to calls for service, working collaboratively with the community and our law enforcement partners, and staying focused on violent crime."

Breaking Down the Stats

Data compiled from property crimes revealed a 3 percent decrease in cases of breaking and entering, and robberies were down 2.4 percent. The most significant decrease in property crime was in the category of motor vehicle thefts. A total of 53 fewer reports of stolen vehicles, or a 10 percent decrease from the first ten months of 2011, were recorded this year.

Not all crime statistics were down, however. Larceny from motor vehicles increased by 4.6 percent, and vandalism saw a slight uptick of 2.6 percent.

In the category of violent crime, the number of aggravated assaults was down by 15.8 percent. In 2011, there were 16 nonfatal shootings and 4 fatal shootings. Year to date, there have been 14 nonfatal shootings and 5 fatal shootings.

Reports of traffic accidents were down by 2.7 percent from the previous year.

A Good Sign, But Problems Persist

Former District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller said the new statistics are evidence that Chief Gemme and the Police Department's efforts to prevent crime through neighborhood collaborations and additional resources around the city are working.

"I certainly agree with the chief that Worcester is a safe city, but there are certainly pockets and areas of the city where people don't feel that way," she said.

"I think there is an increasing uneasiness that becuase of the economy being so bad for so long that crime is something that people are concerned about."

Current District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera agreed that Worcester is a safe city, particularly when compared to other cities of its size.

"That's not to say that there aren't difficulties that arise in certain parts of the city," she said, noting the Pleasant Street, Piedmont and Austin corridor.

Rivera also said that the localized crime can contribute to the economic difficulties when landlords are unable to fill apartments and store fronts because potential tenants are apprehensive about moving into areas with reports of violence and crime.

The Councilor also praised the Police Department's work, but lamented its currently limited resources, which do not allow for the foot patrols many have requested to be reinstated.

"It is a safe city, but unfortunately we're trending upward with shootings and lethal shootings," said Bill Breault of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety.

Harnessing Big Data

Gemme said that the Worcester Police Department uses crime data and statistics to identify crime trends or spikes in crime in areas of the city.

"Through crime analysis, street intelligence and feedback from the community we continue to remain flexible in the assignment of personnel and are focused on reversing negative trends when they emerge," he said.

"The ability to identify these trends, work collaboratively and move resources where they are needed continues to be a strategy that shows results. These strategies are only effective because of the hard work and commitment of the men and women of the police department."

The Worcester Police Department will also release an annual report on crime statistics at the end of 2012. 

 

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