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Manchester crime stats
Overall crime down but violent crime continues to climb

02/09/17
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard released the department’s preliminary 2016 crime statistics on Feb. 1. They show overall crime went down by 21 percent from 2015 to the lowest levels since at least 2008. But Willard is troubled by the trend of increasing violent crimes in the city, as well as a rise in gun-related crimes, which appear to be driven by drugs.

 
Violent crime
Nearly every category of major Part 1 crimes tracked by police and compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation saw decreases in the Queen City last year. One notable exception is aggravated assaults — that violent crime category saw a 9-percent increase over the year before.
Aggravated assault in New Hampshire includes crimes that cause serious bodily harm as well as hate crimes, domestic violence and choking.
There were 397 aggravated assaults in 2015 and 434 in 2016. This is a continuation of a trend; there were 349 in 2014. 
Willard suspects the increase is at least partly due to changes in state law that include more domestic violence and strangulation cases in the aggravated assault category. He also pointed to proactive efforts by the department’s domestic violence unit and violence against women initiative. 
About 40 percent of the assaults are domestic cases, which is similar to 38 percent in 2015. Willard said 16 percent are by acquaintances and 18 percent are by strangers.
Aggravated assaults can include purse-snatching, pushing a loss prevention officer at a store while running out the door or even firing a gun straight up into the air.
“We had a group of teenagers this past summer who were riding their bikes up to people who were on their cell phones and stealing their cell phones. That technically is an aggravated assault,” Willard said.
Robberies, which count as a violent crime, leveled off with only about a dozen fewer cases, totaling 210 in 2016. Willard said he’s disappointed his historical-data-driven policing models didn’t push that number down further.
He says the increase in violent crime and decrease in property crime is part of a national trend and Manchester’s numbers are more positive than the national numbers.
“The violent crime numbers are still unacceptable. In 2017, we’re going to do everything we can do drive those numbers down,” Willard said.
 
Drug and gun crimes
Unlike the more serious Part 1 crimes like aggravated assault and burglary, drug and weapon offenses are tracked under the Part 2 crime category. 
While the exact Part 2 crime stats are not yet available, information released by police showed drug arrests were up in 2016 to 409, compared to 348 in 2015. And gun crimes seemed to be on the rise between these two years, according to Willard. 
The number of guns seized went from 24 in 2015 to 47 in 2016. To respond to this, Willard assigned a detective to be embedded with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, dedicated to investigating only gun crimes.
Manchester police noted a correlation between a rise in gun crimes and a rise in overdoses over the past six years.
Opioids seized by police reflect a shift in the drugs hitting the streets. Heroin was the majority over fentanyl in 2015 when measured by grams. That flipped in 2016. And since fentanyl is far more powerful than heroin, one gram of it doesn’t equate to a gram of heroin.
Manchester police seized nearly 6,800 grams of fentanyl last year and more than 5,400 grams of heroin.
“And that’s not taking into account the amount of drugs being seized by our task force officers who are embedded with the DEA and the FBI,” Willard said.
A new feature of the drug stats released by Manchester police this year was the inclusion of hotspot maps showing the parts of the city that experienced the most drug crimes, drug arrests, gun crimes, gun arrests and overdoses.
It shows the most troubled areas related to drug crimes are parts of the East Side inner city centered on Lake Avenue and Spruce Street to as far north as Prospect Street and as far south as Valley Street. The worst parts of the West Side appear to be centered around West High School.
Willard said there has long been a correlation of crime and poverty in these quarters.
“There’s nothing surprising about it. There are a lot of societal factors that will go into this: lower rents, a lot of tenement buildings, easy access to social services. It’s usually all intertwined,” Willard said.
 
Property crime
All Part 1 property crimes decreased, with burglaries seeing the steepest decline of 32 percent, from 676 cases to 463, less than half of the record high seen in 2013.
Willard credits that success to a shift in how those cases were being investigated. The key has been aggressive fingerprinting at each burglarized residence and quickly arresting suspects with matching prints. He said they arrested 20 people in 2016 using that model. And since each burglar tends to be a repeat offender, that has an exponential effect on the crime stats.
“When you take 20 individuals off the street [who were] doing burglaries, I can only imagine how many burglaries it’s also preventing,” Willard said. 





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