Wilmington gun violence showed sharp decline in 2018

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The year-end report on crime in Wilmington showed to reduce gun homicides down by 41 percent, shootings by 56 percent and overall crime by 6 percent. The rate of cleared homicides rose to 62 percent.

The results from 2018 were announced at a press conference on Thursday morning.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Chief of Police Robert J. Tracy said they are encouraged by the drop in gun-related crime reflected in the annual 2018 Compstat crime summary.

They said the Wilmington Police Department is committed to continuing and strengthening the partnerships between the community and police to produce a further drop in crime in 2019 and beyond.

According to the WPD’s 2018 Compstat report, shooting incidents have decreased to a level not seen in Wilmington in more than 15 years. When compared to the average number of shooting incidents from 2003 through 2017, which is 108, the 72 shooting incidents in 2018 represent a 33 percent decrease over the 15-year period average.

Tracy highlighted two additional and developments related to the improving public safety picture in Wilmington:

  • a 30 percent decrease in citizen complaints filed against the WPD in 2018, with 54 filed last year versus 77 in 2017.
  • A decision last year at the chief’s urging that the Federal Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) establish a Crime/Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) within the WPD’s Real Time Crime Center. The intelligence center operated by the ATF, assists the Wilmington and New Castle County Police Departments with enhanced evidence testing processes that reduces the amount of time it takes to send results back to the respective agencies. The Chief said the WPD is the only mid-sized police department in the United States that has the ATF-embedded system.

“The most gratifying of these reforms is the increased level of community engagement that we see each day between residents and police officers. This is a welcome change that guides the operations of the department and contributes in a large way to its current successes,” Purzycki stated. It would not happen if community engagement were not a top priority of the chief and the men and women of the Department.”

Tracy said his commanders and officers have responded well to a new command structure and policing techniques.

The chief also said other law enforcement agencies that interact with the department on a routine basis for joint investigations and other types of assistance that have helped Wilmington fight crime.

“We are approaching policing in a variety of ways, all of which are intended to assist our officers in performing their duties as they interact with citizens,” Tracy stated. “We will continue to operate every day as though our most important asset is the community. We’ve worked hard to win the trust of citizens. We are actively seeking their assistance in curbing crime, and they are responding, which is why our crime trends are moving in the right direction.”

The hiring of former Chicago Police official Tracy was one of the first priorities of Purzycki when he took office in 2016. The city’s image had taken a beating locally and in the widely circulated Murdertown USA story published by Newsweek.

Tracy inherited a police department that was struggling with staffing issues. The department, despite its relatively large size for a city of about 70,000, was having trouble getting enough officers on the street for a time, due to vacations and other factors. County and state officers provided assistance during that period.

Wilmington’s CompStat reports are published on the city’s website at http://bit.ly/2BqAONB.

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