I spent a week earlier this month in Louisville, Kentucky attending a class on using lighting, landscaping and other environmental factors to reduce crime in neighborhood redevelopment. As we move forward with our new housing policies, the information I brought back should be helpful in designing not only sustainable neighborhoods in Middletown, but also in designing neighborhoods that through their layout and design, deter crime in the future.
I also had the opportunity to briefly talk with Chief Muterspaw this past week about the first quarter of 2018. While I’ll have actual numbers in a week or two with the quarterly departmental reports, the first quarter, January through March, demonstrated a significant reduction in crime and overdoses.
Part One Crimes (the most serious crimes) are down quite a bit from same time last year. We’ve had no murders in 2018 to date, where last year we had already experienced five murders (2017 was a very atypical year for murders). Aggravated Assaults and thefts are down. Domestic relations and domestic violence calls have dropped significantly over the same time last year. Total calls for service are down. Felony drug arrests are up, which means we’re still out getting the opiates and other drugs off your streets. The reduction in calls for service and crime have allowed our detectives to start clearing more of their cases.
On the opiate front, we see similar good news. In January through March 2017, we had 26 deaths and 231 opiate related overdoses. Through the same period this year, we’ve had 14 deaths and 124 opiate related overdoses.
Whether this is a pause in the action or the beginning of a trend downward in ongoing crime and drug abuse remains to be seen. It’s our hope that all of the changes made to the Division of Police coupled with our Heroin Response Team, the courts, and application of our chronic nuisance ordinance is starting to have effect on crime in many areas of the city.
We still have a long way to go, but I like to share good news when I get it.