Wilmington 2011 crime stats trending down

Despite a shootout at a Wilmington corner store and shooting death of a 17-year-old last week, the Wilmington Police Department says statistics still show some encouraging results.

Chief Michael Szczerba says the numbers of overall homicides and murders committed with a gun saw very modest decreases; 28 people were killed within city limits, only one less than in 2010 and 22 people were killed by a gun compared to 23 in 2010.

However, WPD says other crime numbers are giving them reason to celebrate, which include:

39% drop in shooting incidents from 2010 (lowest number of shootings for the past six years)
33% drop in shooting victims since 2010 (lowest number of shooting victims for the past seven years)
31% decrease in robberies since 2010
3% decrease in burglaries since 2010
4% increase in gun seizures compared to 2010

Chief Szczerba credits the department’s efforts as well as joint operations with other police agencies. He also expressed his appreciation for Operation Safe Streets (OSS) – a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement unit that tracks the activities of probationers and high-risk offenders.

Chief Szczerba joined Mayor James Baker today in thanking the WPD for their “remarkable” efforts in 2011 considering a crime problem they say is caused by too many people possessing and using guns, drug addictions and repeat offenders.

According to a news release issued Monday, Mayor Baker and Chief Szczerba are calling for a dialogue with state court officials about requiring a substantial (about $30-thousand) cash bail standard for suspects arrersted on gun-related offenses, before being released from custody.

“Our shooting statistics and investigations show that the best way to achieve immediate community safety is to keep gun offenders in jail while awaiting trial,” said Chief Szczerba.

“Sometimes you just have to do what common sense and good police work indicates you ought to do—keep repeat gun offenders off the streets until they are adjudicated. If they get out of jail, chances are that someone, or even the gun offender, will get hurt or killed,” said the Mayor.

Wilmington officials travel to High Point, NC

Mayor Baker’s Chief of Staff, William Montgomery, will lead a group of city law enforcement officers and state social service officials to North Carolina early next month. The city says they will learn more about a program that has produced dramatically lower rates of crime and violence.

“After consulting with Dr. David Kennedy, a leading national expert on urban crime and violence, we will visit High Point next week and review a police and community-based crime program that has produced encouraging results.” said Montgomery. “Dr. Kennedy tells us that the High Point program is one of the best examples of the approach to crime that he has championed across the country. We will spend a few days talking to High Point Police officials and well as people in the local community to determine if we can apply the principles of this program in Wilmington and focus even more energy on stopping people from using weapons.”

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