City officials showed support for Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts Wednesday when the mayor reported declines in overall crime last year, with the exception of homicides.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez applauded Roberts and the Hartford Police Department for what he said was "the lowest overall crime rate in 30 years. We want to make sure that the whole story gets told. Hartford is a safer city," Perez said.
Although the overall crime rate is down, the total number of homicides increased from 24 in 2006 to 33 in 2007. The 33 homicides is the highest since 1995, at the height of gang violence in the city, with the exception of 2003. The city had 44 homicides in 2003; 16 were attributed to an intentionally set fire at the Greenwood Health Center.
The city reported that there were 32 homicides because, Roberts said, the department is not laying claim to the case of Domaine Richards, an East Hartford man whose body was found in December in the trunk of his car in Hartford.
Records released Wednesday by the state's chief medical examiner show that Richards was pronounced dead in Hartford, and thus his death was referred to the Hartford Police Department for investigation.
During the year, homicides and rapes increased, the records show. But robberies and aggravated assaults declined. Of those categories, the city showed the largest decline — 14 percent — in robberies, city records show.
CORRECTION: The sharp decline in the theft of automobile license plates and registration stickers in Hartford in 2007 was due, city police officials say, to the fact that stickers are now affixed to the inside of vehicle windshields. Police still report license and registration thefts when they do occur. A story on Page B1 Thursday incorrectly stated that such thefts are no longer reported.
Property crimes helped to pull down the overall crime rate, records show. There were double-digit declines in the larceny category, which dropped by 24.4 percent, in part because the city stopped reporting the thefts of license plates and registration stickers. Automobile thefts were also down by 5 percent, city records show.
Information on the crime statistics was presented Wednesday at a press conference at city hall and obtained from city records and via Hartford Public Access TV.
During the press conference, Roberts spoke directly to the families of those killed.
"To those family members who have lost a loved one to violent crime, I want to extend my sincerest condolences," Roberts said. "One homicide is too many. We plan to work closely with state and federal agencies."
Shooting victims and shooting incidents are down, compared with 2006, Roberts said.
Perez said there were 1,600 fewer crime victims last year, compared with 2006, and 17,000 fewer victims than what was reported in 1981.
"The numbers tell the actual story, the whole story," Perez said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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