2018 was safest year in Salisbury’s history

Newly released crime statistics show that 2018 was Salisbury’s safest year on record.

In a review of the most serious crimes against people and property, the city saw a 17 percent drop in what national law enforcement officials label as Part 1 crimes in their statistics.

These crimes include criminal homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary (breaking or entering), larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Last year, Part 1 crimes were down 42 percent from their 2009 peak and nearly 22 percent below their five-year average.

There were 1,821 Part 1 crimes reported in the city in 2018, compared to an alarming 3,147 crimes in the 2009 peak year.

The five safest years on record are 1986, 1996, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The year-over-year percentages in burglaries were down 28 percent and down 22 percent in robberies. A longtime nemesis in Salisbury crime reports — theft from a vehicle — was down 28 percent year over year.

There were three murders in the city in 2018, compared to seven murders in 2017. The 10-year average for murders in Salisbury is three per year.

Rape is the only category showing an increase in Salisbury’s 10-year crime average — it was up 9.9 percent with 21 total crimes reported. There were also exactly 21 rapes reported in 2017. The definition of rape has broadened in recent years, and that has been reflected in higher nationwide numbers.

There were 234 burglaries in 2018, compared to 273 a year ago. Reported aggravated assaults were down slightly, from 172 in 2017 to 169 in 2018.

Juvenile arrests — which had grown as an issue of concern in recent years — continued its downward trend, with a 264 arrests in 2018, compared to 305 arrests in 2017 and 314 in 2016.

Though arrest were down, Salisbury Police officers were the busiest in two years. Calls for service totaled 58,484 last year, compared to 61,861 in 2016 and 57,730 in 2017.

Mayor Jake Day credited City Police officers and their devoted efforts to helping drive the numbers downward.

“They’re getting results by building trust, engaging in proactivity and truly working hard,” the mayor said. He also pointed out that the city now has the largest patrol contingent in its history.

Day had extra praise for Police Chief Barbara Duncan.

“In 2009 we had our highest crime rate,” Day said. “We were considered one of the most dangerous cities in America in crimes per capita.

“The biggest thing that’s happened is that Barbara Duncan arrive on our scene in 2010, the numbers have been improving ever since.

Day also credited predictive policing, which, he explained, isn’t citizens picking up the phone and reporting incidents, but officers knowing they have to be in a certain area at a certain time.

Last fall, a study released by “Your Local Security,” an ADT alarm system company, reported that Salisbury is becoming safer faster than any other city in the country.

That study showed the city had the fastest drop in the crime rate in the country from 2002 to 2016.

“We will always have crime, but we have better detection. Our police officers are doing a great job chasing down crime, chasing down criminals and having a heavy patrol presence,” Day said.

For the national study, rape numbers were not included because the definition of rape was changed by law enforcement agencies between 2006 and 2016.

Cities were not taken into consideration if they were missing any year or crime data, if the population from those cities were below the median population in the state, or if there were changes in the state or local agency’s reporting practices. A total of 3,483 US cities were evaluated.


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