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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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Patty O'Brien

Chief Gemme likes to manipulate the crime stats in his favor to say that there is no rise in violent crime in Worcester, really chief? The facts are that you have become a re-active police dept. instead of pro-active. It is obvious that Chief Gemme has lost control of his dept. and this city. It appears that the WPD is more concerned about making extra money than protecting the citizens of Worcester. City Manager O’Brien it is up to you to step up and get rid of this police chief.

Patty O'Brien

If you want to see the biggest Crime Stats Problem Area in Worcester, look on the 3rd floor of Police headquarters!

Harvey Fenigsohn

Message scarier than the crime

Dianne Williamson

Add a comment

Harvey Fenigsohn, 70, is a former English teacher at The Bancroft School who now works at the UMass Medical School’s Lamar Soutter Library. Today, I’ll let him tell his story, in his own words.

Just in case I forgot my religion, someone recently reminded me. Not long ago, I discovered a three-letter word scratched on the passenger door of my car. The three letters spelled the word JEW, which is what I am. I was shocked at the vandalism, but even more alarmed, and, yes, maybe even frightened at what had been written. I quickly sensed that I was not merely a victim of vandalism. I was also most likely the victim of an especially vicious kind of crime — a hate crime. Who had done such a thing, and why? As far as I knew, or at least as far as I thought, I had no known enemies, much less anti-Semitic ones.

The police officer who inspected the damage concluded that the damage was indeed a hate crime. He would file a report and advised me to be on the lookout for any more such incidents in my neighborhood, though he had not known of any recently in the Worcester area.

Friends and family shared my concern and offered their opinion. Like me, they reached either one of two different conclusions as to what motivated the vandalism. In one scenario, an anonymous vandal, unaware of my religion, chose my car at random to mar with an insult. The perpetrator, maybe not even aware of the implications of his action, committed an aimless act of vandalism not specifically directed toward me and not knowing he had vandalized a Jewish man’s automobile. A few held this opinion, perhaps because they wanted to help me feel better in thinking the act was arbitrary and not personal.

A majority, however, concluded that it was no accident that my car had been vandalized. They believed that not only did the vandal know it was my car, he or she also knew my religion. Thus, the vandalism was an act of harassment — hatred aimed squarely at me. I wanted to believe the former but dreaded the latter opinion was true. But I soon understood that the fact that the vandal may not have known me or my religion was not the point.

The point was that the vandalism was an attack on every person of the Jewish faith. In the city of Worcester, in the year 2011, an act was committed that might have well been committed in the city of Berlin, Germany, in the year 1939. At that time, German Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David along with the word JUDE, the German word for Jew, the same that had been scratched on my car door.

But this was America in the 21st century. How could I think that the mere scratching of a three-letter word on my automobile was the beginning of a pogrom, a term describing mob attacks against Russian Jews? Yes, times are different now, but then I remembered that this was the same country where not that long ago Native Americans were slaughtered and their land stolen. It was the same country where human beings were bought and sold like animals. It was the same country where these same people were lynched for having the wrong skin color. And it was the same country where loyal (Japanese) American citizens were herded into concentration camps.

Nevertheless, I reminded myself of how much progress this nation has made in eliminating prejudice and discrimination, and of how far we have come in guaranteeing justice for all. After all, we have become a nation where a black man could become president, and no longer are people of his race forced to ride in the back of the bus.

But there it was, clearly etched into my car door, a simple three-letter word, clearly reminding me of how little we have accomplished, and of how far we have to go.

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