Norwalk sees a reduction in crime for 2007
Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2008
AMANDA NORRIS - Hour Staff Writer
Norwalk sees a reduction in crime for 2007
By AMANDA NORRIS
Hour Staff Writer
The police department recently reported a seven percent reduction in crime based on data compiled during 2007. The statistics are based on the numbers of crimes reported to the department year to year. They do not compare the number of arrests made with the number of crimes reported nor do they account for population change.
Categories of crime which declined the most included arson, burglary, homicide, narcotics violations and weapons law violations.
Burglaries dropped from 357 in 2006 to 286 in 2007.
Homicide was down 40 percent from 5 deaths reported in 2006 to 3 in 2007. Eight hundred and sixty six assaults were reported in 2007, a decrease of only 6 percent.
A few categories saw significant spikes in reported incidents, however.
Kidnapping and abductions increased by 53 percent, and sexual assault increased 24 percent.
Disorderly conduct charges also increased by 20 percent.
Mayor Richard A. Moccia said he was "very gratified" by the reduction in crime rates and that, because many of the reported incidents of kidnappings and abductions are domestic or interpersonal in nature, the statistics reflect an even greater reduction in street crime when controlled for that fact.
"Many abductions are domestic or interpersonal in nature, and I am not minimizing that, but if you discount those categories, the reduction is even greater than seven percent," Moccia said.
Also, the incidents of prostitution increased by 240 percent, but Rilling pointed out that since prostitution is generally an unreported crime, the repeated busts of massage parlors in 2007 led to the inflated statistic.
Both Moccia and Riling said the number of arrests made in 2007 was high, although the data did not include the exact number. They agreed that an increase in the number of arrests in 2007 bodes well for keeping crime rates down in the future due to the fact that arrestees may not return to the streets to commit other offenses.
Moccia said police department's concentrated efforts at reducing the number of drugs and guns in Norwalk hopefully would impact other categories of violent crime in the future.
"The police department has made, with cooperation with federal agencies, some significant drug busts in the past year," Moccia said. "We're doing well, we want to do better. Any police department, even one that achieve a thirty percent year-end reduction, will still want to do better."
Moccia said continuing to fund the police department through grants and asset forfeiture funds as the city expands would be key to continuing the trend in falling crime rates, but he said that he feels the sting of unwarranted criticism from council members who argue that the police department is understaffed and underequipped.
"I find a little bit of a dichotomy in council members saying the police department is not sufficiently staffed to do the work it is tasked with or that it is not supported well enough by the city," Moccia said. "To me, that's like people who say they support the troops but not the war."
Moccia said redevelopment plans will increase the tax base and that a reasonable amount of new tax revenue would go toward public safety departments.
Michael Geake, chairman of the Common Council's Public Health, Safety and Wellness Committee, said crime in Norwalk was still being driven by a drug trade in South Norwalk and that perceptions of public safety would not turn on statistics.
"It's great that crime rates have gone down, but they are still way to high," Geake said. "To me these are just numbers. They don't excite me very much. I don't think people feel safer in Norwalk now than ten years ago, and if they do and we haven't changed any of the underlying factors that just makes them targets."
Geake said his wife recently drove their Mustang convertible down South Main Street and was solicited by a man who thought she was there to buy drugs because of the make and model of the car.
He also said the departments recruitment efforts and the city's budget would not keep pace with the demands an influx of new residents would put on officers.