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City crime trending down~ RH 2-26-16

City crime trending down
By Gordon Dritschilo
STAFF WRITER | February 26, 2016
City officials said Thursday night they were encouraged by not just the crime statistics that were down, but also the ones that were up.
Burglaries in Rutland dropped from 129 in 2014 to 79 last year. Larcenies fell from 620 to 490. While motor vehicle thefts went up, from 11 to 19, Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said those numbers were too small to conclude there is a statistical trend.
Violent crimes were similarly down, for the most part. While there were no Rutland City murders in either year, rapes went from seven to three and robberies from 16 to 8.
Aggravated assaults, however, went from 42 to 58. Kilcullen said that change prompted a closer look. Thirty-eight of those, he said, were domestic violence, in which an assault that would be a misdemeanor on a stranger can become a felony due to a prior record or the offender already being subject to a restraining order.
Avaloy Lanning, executive director of the Rutland County Women’s Network & Shelter, said those numbers were actually a sign of positive change. She said domestic violence is traditionally under-reported for a variety of reasons and police response, historically, “wasn’t great.”
She said her group sees 650 people a year, many who have had negative experiences with law enforcement making them reluctant to go to the police. The network, she said, has made a concerted effort to build closer relationships with police agencies in the county, helping officers better understand how to approach domestic violence cases.
“The dialogue in this city about domestic abuse and domestic violence is tremendous,” she said. “It’s better than anywhere I’ve ever been. … More people are reaching out. More people are reporting. … I believe this big increase is a direct result of how responsive law enforcement has been. … That’s huge.”
Kilcullen said the drop in burglaries and larcenies likely reflected progress in the city’s struggle with drug addiction.
“These types of crimes tend to be committed by someone trying to support an addiction,” he said.
Sgt. Joseph Bartlett said the department’s efforts at data-driven policing — identifying high-crime areas and deploying resources accordingly — were proving effective. He shared an anecdote of a targeted area where drug activity was suppressed to the point that an informant in a drug sting couldn’t find a dealer.
“For some of us older guys, it’s a big change, but it works so well,” he said.
Mayor Christopher Louras said he had initially hoped to see 2013 included in the presentation as the reductions from 2014 built on those from the previous year.
“In the end, I’m glad that wasn’t there, because I think that was looking back a little too much,” he said. “We want to look forward.”
Louras dismissed a question about how the city’s changes compared to statewide trends.
“Who cares?” he said. “Ask the folks at the state who aren’t compiling those numbers.”
Louras also praised the Police Commission.
“Without their leadership and their steadfast, passionate guidance … we wouldn’t be where we are,” he said. “The successes we’ve seen, I know we’re going to see into the future.”
gordon.dritschilo @rutlandherald.com

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