FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Following a violent 2013, Fort Wayne Police are taking a closer look at crime trends in the city. Top public safety officials presented their findings to City Council during a meeting Tuesday evening. Officials said it’s still early in the year, but numbers show crime is down in Fort Wayne.
The statistics presented showed between 2012 and 2013 there was an increase in violent crimes, especially with homicides and burglaries. Police report an increase of nearly 50 percent in homicides. The department totals 32 homicides last year instead of 45 which is the coroner’s number because police don’t report self-defense homicides or justifiable police action shootings in their totals.
So far in 2014, there’s been a decline in violent crimes such as homicides, rapes, and robbery. Assault was the only violent crime that’s seen an increase this year. Public Safety Director, Rusty York, believes that has increased because of a new law creating stricter charges for domestic battery or disputes. As for the other violent crimes, law enforcement officials believe there are several factors that have contributed to the low statistics. Police Chief Garry Hamilton said the weather has certainly played its part, but the new gang unit, which has more officers dedicated to that specific task, has also had its share of success.
“We have 12 to 15 officers constantly around the clock passing information on,” Hamilton said. “It’s helpful to keep that pressure on those individuals.”
Hamilton said he believed the success of the gang unit has also spurred more community involvement.
“People are really feeling comfortable making those calls because they see that these individuals are being arrested with their information that are helping us make those arrests,” he said.
Police said there has also been some success in new monthly meetings between the police department and the prosecutor’s office. The two entities are also reviewing older homicide cases to see if there’s anything that might have been missed. Together, they’re going for tougher charges, especially if people have gotten in serious trouble before and are turning more of those cases over to the federal level.
In addition, the department is applying for a federal grant which would allow them to have officers on beat patrol who would walk the streets of certain areas that have seen an increase in crime. Hamilton said they are also moving school officers from the high schools to middle schools in an attempt to try to reach kids at a younger age.