Here is a Mid-Year update on Public Safety for our citizens:
Division of Police
Upon studying crime patterns for the first six months of the year it is evident that crime has been decreasing for the past four years with the largest decrease occurring this year. So far this year total crime is down 26% from 2014 to 2015.
In analyzing the cause for the decrease in reported crime we considered national crime trends, our decrease in population, weather, improved economy, heroin overdoses, and improved tactics. There are other factors that may have had a positive impact on crime like the decrease in Section 8 housing, fewer vacant houses because of prior demolition projects, and neighborhood watch programs.
During the first six months we have had 26 people die from overdoses. They had been arrested for a total of 341 times in Middletown. Of the people arrested in Middletown their charges involved such serious crimes as Attempted Murder, Aggravated Burglary, Felonious Assault, B&E, Theft and Receiving Stolen Property. Most of their crimes involved theft presumably to support their habit. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention conducted a study that estimated that 48 thefts occur for each arrest. If these people committed half that number of crimes before getting caught it’s not inconceivable that these 26 people committed 8,000 crimes. This is one of many reasons that I convened the Heroin Summit this year to start addressing this issue in Middletown. Our next summit is on Monday, July 27, where we hope to lay out our action plan for the City. I’ll keep you informed on that progress in a separate blog post.
Tactically a couple successful task forces were conducted; one in 2013 targeting shop lifters and a second one in 2014 targeting a high crime neighborhood. We are now mapping crime and calls for service quarterly to see where in the City our residents are being impacted by criminal activity. Starting in July, Chief Muterspaw has assigned a permanent task force for the sole purpose of responding to hot spots in crime, wherever and in what ever form it is happening.
We have also been working for the past year or two in active discussions with Middletown area landlords. What started out as a distrustful, confrontational process has evolved into a good working relationship with the local landlord association to discuss mutual problems. We have discussed items such as tenant screening, eviction processes, and improved business practices.
One of those joint discussions helped us move forward with the chronic nuisance ordinance. We all recognize that one bad house on the street can lower property values and discourage both owners and renters from living in an area. Under the new ordinance, which takes effect in August, if a property has two drug related or three nuisance related calls in any six month period, that property will be designated as a chronic nuisance property. The owner will be notified and given a chance to abate the problem or to evict a problem tenant. If the owner takes no action and the property gets another nuisance call, the city cost in responding to the problem at the chronic nuisance property will be billed to the property owner. For example, if the city had to send two police cruisers and one ambulance to a heroin overdose at a chronic nuisance property, the entire cost of the responding police officers and the ambulance crew would be billed to the chronic nuisance property owner. If the owner doesn’t pay the bill, it is added to his/her tax bill. We hope that moving forward, this ordinance will resolve another round of problem properties and criminal activity.
Finally, you may have noticed an increased community presence in our police division. Chief Muterspaw and I have participated in several Community Dialogues with the African American community to discuss recent national events involving police and how we can communicate better and get a better understanding of each other in Middletown. Chief Muterspaw and I also engaged in a great discussion a couple weeks ago with several Latino pastors to better understand common issues between us. Finally, if you follow the Middletown Division of Police on Facebook, look for the next “Coffee with a Cop” session at Triple Moon Coffee downtown. The Chief hosts a public discussion of any police issues and usually has a couple of street officers and dispatchers available to answer questions.
We still rank about average in our crime rate for a city this size; however we are going in the right direction. Hopefully more years of data will show that this is a trend of improvement for our city.
Middletown Division of Fire
Second quarter calls for service are also going down in the Division of Fire. With the First Emergency First profile, total medical assists are much less than 2014 totals, due to staffing Medic units with 3 personnel, negating the need for assistance from other Fire units on most calls. This resulted in 1,005 fewer calls for service in the second quarter this year alone. We look forward to continued success using First Emergency First and the action plan from the Heroin Summit to continue the reduction in calls for service in the Division of Fire.
We continue to work hard to reduce crime and calls for service for your public safety forces. We welcome your input and comments as to how we are doing and how we can improve even more.
Have a great week!