Despite uptick in shootings, crime rate in Wilmington is still on the decline


Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Police Chief Robert J. Tracy released the official 2019 year-end report on crime in Wilmington. The statistics show a continued reduction in overall crime.

According to the WPD’s 2019 year-end Citywide CompStat Report,overall crime in 2019 was down 3 percent from 2018 across all categories – murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, and auto theft. The 2019 totals represent an 11 percent decrease in overall crime from 2017 and a 22 percent decrease from 2016.

The mayor and chief are concerned that the number of shooting incidents and shooting victims increased in 2019, but noted that even with these increases, gun-related crime is still trending downward over recent years. They vowed to continue to take steps to further reduce gun violence.

Year-end numbers related to crime and guns:

  • A total of 89 shooting incidents, reflecting an increase from the 72 incidents in 2018 buta 46 percent decrease compared with 2017 and a 29 percent decrease compared with 2016
  • A total of 112 shooting victims, reflecting an increase from the 79 victims in 2018 but a continued reduction from years past—a 42 percent reduction from 2017 and a 20 percent reduction compared with 2016

“Even with some increases in 2019, and after significant crime reductions in 2018, the Wilmington Police Department has seen another year of sustained overall progress,” said Tracy, “and we are entering 2020 with a continued commitment to further drive down crime and leverage our resources and crime strategies to continue to enhance public safety in Wilmington.” The Chief said the WPD continues to embrace several proven crime control strategies, including:

  • Integrating community engagement efforts into every facet of policing
  • Assigning the same officers to the same neighborhoods each time they report for duty
  • Leveraging and sharing intelligence throughout the department’s divisions and units
  • Integrating CompStat methodology into the management of the department

“These innovative crime strategies have fundamentally changed how we protect and serve the people of Wilmington,” said Chief Tracy. “I commend my officers for embracing and adopting these changes, and I thank the public for the support for our agency and its goals on a daily basis.”

Other data

  • A 9 percent decrease in robbery incidents compared with 2018; that reduction also reflects an 18 percent drop from 2017, and a 27 percent drop from 2016
  • A 9 percent decrease in aggravated assault incidents compared with 2018; that reduction reflects an 8 percent drop from 2017 and an 18 percent drop from 2016
  • A 9 percent decrease in felony theft compared with 2018; that reduction reflects a 10 percent reduction from 2017 and 11 percent from 2016
  • A 6 percent decrease in misdemeanor theft – a category that includes theft from vehicles and package thefts from residences – from 2018

In 2019, the WPD had a 67% homicide clearance rate – surpassing the department’s 62% clearance rate in 2018. The results from both years surpass the national clearance rate average. Chief Tracy credits continued community engagement efforts and strengthened relationships in neighborhoods as playing a role in the improving clearance rate.

Tracy also emphasized the WPD’s implementation of innovative crime strategies and initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence. These include:

  • The establishment of a Crime/Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) within the WPD’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC); operated with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the CGIC assists the Wilmington and New Castle County Police Departments with enhanced evidence testing processes that reduce the amount of time it takes to send results back to the respective agencies
  • The implementation of Group Violence Intervention, and the coordination of efforts between police, prosecutors, social service providers and government officials; this research-based strategy identifies individuals with the highest propensity for violence in order to redirect their behaviors away from violence
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