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Police Chief Scott Booth told the City Council earlier this week that the city saw fewer reported robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults in 2022 than during the previous year.
A total of 128 total violent crimes were reported last year. That number is a 21% drop from the 162 the city saw in 2021 and 51.7% lower than the average of 265.25 violent crimes per year from 2015 to 2018, said Booth in a presentation Tuesday night.
Rapes and aggravated assaults dropped by 28% each in 2022. Robberies decreased by 10%.
The number of homicides in 2022 — seven — was the same as the previous year. However, the number remains far below the level seen in 2016 when there were 17.
Booth’s figures reflect a continual decline in reported violent incidents since his implementation of community policing, which he started after being hired as chief in 2018.
That approach includes a stratified police accountability model in which everyone from the chief to all other members of the force are responsible for tackling crime; neighborhood-oriented policing in which supervisors are assigned to specific geographic areas of the city; and community engagement.
However, property crimes increased in 2022, from 1,249 in 2021 to 1,347 — an increase of 8%. The increase was driven by larceny from motor vehicles, which more than doubled, Booth said.
“Our primary driver in crime in our community last year — thankfully it wasn’t violent crime ... it was folks’ cars getting broken into,” Booth said.
The police department took several steps to address the problem, Booth said, pointing to undercover work, focused deterrence, public-service announcements and media and social media notifications reminding residents to lock vehicles and avoid leaving keys or valuables in their cars.
Burglaries in 2022 were at an all-time low of 76, a 58% reduction from the then all-time low of 180 in 2019. Each year since has brought all-time lows in burglaries, Booth said.
Burglary case clearances — or solved cases — were at 61.5% in 2022, about four-and-a-half times the national average of 14%, Booth said, praising his police force for their work.
Robert David, youth services and gang violence prevention coordinator for the city, also gave a presentation on the accomplishments of Project Imagine, a program that steers gang-prone kids away from crime.
In other matters, the City Council voted to:
First readings were held on two items. A first reading is an introductory step to give the public notice of pending action. The matters will be voted upon at the next regular meeting of the City Council.
The first of the items is a budget amendment for a federal grant to establish a real time crime center and implement an integrated ballistic identification system. The second item is a budget amendment for a state grant to continue litter prevention and recycling activities.
Also, Mayor Jones issued a proclamation for “National Mentoring Month.” The proclamation was presented to Pat Daniel, executive director of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Danville Area.