Chief reaching to citizens to talk crime

Duncan 4

Information was shared and rumors dispelled at the city’s first police neighborhood forum, a meeting that won praise for the police chief from the mayor.

Chief Barbara Duncan made “communication between police and residents more seamless,” Mayor Jim Ireton said.

Among topics were crime trends and misinformation on social media.

“The message is, crime is down 40 percent from last January and February to this January and February,” said Jake Day, president of the Salisbury City Council.

Ireton, too, promoted that message by referring to the police department’s Feb. 9 to Feb. 15 Safe Streets Crime Prevention Newsletter. It contains the number of certain crimes last year, compared to this year. A decrease was seen in the following:

*Burglary forced entry — 42 in 2014 and 18 so far this year.

*Simple assault — 117 last year, 98 this year.

*Theft from motor vehicles  — 28 last year, 12 this year.

*Assault with a knife — 15 last year,  one this year.

*Theft and all other crimes — 41 last year, 28 this year.

The newsletter also lists these increases:

*Robbery with a firearm — one in 2014 and seven this year.

*Theft from a building — 33 in 2014, 37 this year.

*Rape by force — three last year, four this year.

*Burglary unlawful entry  — nine last year, 10 this year.

Among the approximately 30 people attending the forum, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, were representatives from law enforcement, including those who patrol Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and the city’s Neighborhood Services and Code Compliance departments.

The focus was on Camden neighborhoods.

“There was good discussion about things going on in the neighborhood. We discussed crime trends, social media trends. The goal is to keep the keep public informed about what’s going on, to get them involved in the process,” Day said.

Day said he believes the forums should be part of the city’s regular policing program and pronounced last week’s “great,” from the turnout to the information Duncan provided.

False information on social media, such as Facebook, was discussed, including rumors surrounding a suicide by hanging from tree off  Route 13 a few weeks ago and fights at the Centre at Salisbury.

“There has been a lot of misreporting. These are people who sit home and listen to the scanner and immediately put things on Facebook before they know the facts. There are all kinds of mistakes, things like reporting the victim’s names as the suspects’ names,” Day said.

The Feb. 25 forum, and future forums that might be held, are  important, Ireton said, “because the chief has the chance to show the neighborhood how we are being proactive, and what the statistics are in real time.”

“Additionally, the chief has covered the subject of the fear of being a victim of a crime.  Due to the nature of the local news, it is not clear to residents that they are not being inundated by crime.  Maryland’s crime stats are the lowest since the 1970’s and Salisbury’s are approaching pre-2000 levels. Yet you wouldn’t know it. The chief is tackling these issues,” he said.

Duncan, on the police department’s Web site, lists ways city residents can partner with law enforcement. They include joining or revitalizing a neighborhood association, volunteering, being an observant and considerate neighbor.

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