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Salisbury on track for decrease in crime reported

In the week following four consecutive gang-related shootings, city council candidates sharpened their views on crime and policing. However, statistics show Salisbury is on track for a 19 percent decrease in crime reported.

Homicides are the only category that’s exceeded 2014 statistics and projected to finish the year higher than the four killings last year. Statistics provided by the Salisbury Police Department show robberies as coming within a few incidents of 2014’s reported number. All other crime categories provided — rape, aggravated assault, larceny, burglary and motor vehicle theft — are significantly below 2014’s numbers.

Drug-related charges are not included as part of the statistics.

A number of factors influence crimes rates, said Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins.

“Crime rates can vary on something as small as who just got out of prison,” Collins said. “A lot of times, unfortunately, offenders will go right back to the activity they were doing. And, sometimes they will come back better prepared.”

When asked, Collins didn’t directly associate the projected decrease to an operation within the Salisbury Police Department. He did, however, talk about the benefits of a group called the Police Interdiction Team.

Collins reassigned a number of officers to the Police Interdiction Team in 2001 to combat street crimes such as gang, drug and violent offenses. When police departments are able to be proactive in communities, Collins said crimes rates are lower.

Proactively combating crime is a part of the Police Interdiction Team’s duties, Collins said. Unless patrol units are busy, the Police Interdiction team doesn’t regularly answer calls for service, such as a larceny at a store, he said.

The statistics for 2014 provided by the Salisbury Police Department show four homicides, 13 rapes, 64 robberies, 134 aggravated assaults, 1,211 larcenies, 422 burglaries and 70 motor vehicles thefts. Combined, the statistics result in a total of 1,918 crimes reported.

From Jan. 1, 2015, until Friday, statistics show five homicides, five rapes, 44 robberies, 79 aggravated assaults, 786 larcenies, 200 burglaries and 41 motor vehicle thefts. Combined, that’s 1,160 crimes reported.

The statistics provided up to Friday represent just over three quarters of 2015. If all crimes continued at the same rate, the final statistics for 2015 would show seven homicides, seven rapes, 59 robberies, 105 aggravated assaults, 1,048 larcenies,  267 burglaries, 55 motor vehicle thefts and a total of 1,547 crimes reported.

Recent council candidate interest in crime rates resulted from four shootings that police have directly attributed to gang activity.

“That’s one of the reasons I have been trying to emphasize that what we have been seeing has not been random,” Collins said. “If we were dealing with random, violent activity, I would definitely say there’s a reason for much more alarm.”

Collins said criminals know the victims in nearly all incidents that occur in Salisbury.

Some council candidates have pointed out that Salisbury has fewer police officers today than in past years. Collins said additional police officers would help further reduce crime rates.

Statistics provided by city officials show Salisbury as having more sworn police officers per 10,000 residents than the state average. However, Salisbury has inched closer to the average from 2010 to 2014. In 2010, Salisbury had 27.8 officers per 10,000 residents. In 2014, the number was 24 per 10,000 redients.

The average number of police officers per 10,000 residents is 22, according to city statistics.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

 

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