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Report: Serious Crime Down Slightly In Hartford In 2009

STEVEN GOODE

January 12, 2010

HARTFORD - Serious crime in the city declined slightly in 2009, but there were alarming increases in two categories: aggravated assault and burglary.

According to statistics compiled by the Hartford Police Department, serious crime which is defined as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft decreased overall by 1.9 percent in 2009, to a historical low of 7,935 incidents reported.

However, aggravated assault, a category that includes domestic abuse, jumped by more than 16 percent and burglaries were up 12 percent.

Those increases were offset by decreases of more than 24 percent each in reports of rape and auto theft. Shooting incidents were up more than 9 percent, but the number of reported shooting victims dipped by nearly 4 percent. Homicides increased by one in 2009, from 32 to 33.

Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts credited the department's crime suppression teams and community policing efforts for the decreases, but acknowledged that jumps in shootings and especially domestic violence, which accounted for 34 percent of the increase in the aggravated assault category, were troubling. "With respect to the numbers, we are competing against our own success," Roberts said, explaining that overall violent crime has been steadily decreasing in the city 14.5 percent over the past five years. "But there is a pocket of violence that is unsettling to us."

Roberts said the department has implemented investigative and crime suppression strategies, including increased enforcement, hot-spot targeted deployment, truancy enforcement, midnight street crime units and specialized teams and patrols to continue to reduce the overall crime rate in the city. But Roberts and Mayor Eddie A. Perez said that Hartford also is battling a perception issue.

"If people don't feel safe, they aren't," Perez said.

Roberts said that the only way to change that perception is to continue to maintain a presence around the city and in the neighborhoods, even though the department doesn't have as many members as he and Perez would like. The department currently has 460 officers with 33 more recruits. Perez has said he would like to see staffing at about 600, but difficult economic times and city budget woes make that number unlikely.

"We want people to be patient. These are tough times for the police department," Roberts said, adding that a tough economy also may be partly responsible for the increase in burglaries.

"Bad guys have families too," he said. "If they can't take care of them with their own cash they'll take yours."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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