Salisbury sees significant drop in its crime rates

Salisbury’s mayor is pleased crime in the city is down and is following the national trend.

Violent crime is declining nationwide, but it doesn’t always seem that way, Mayor Jake Day said. Many believe it’s on the increase, and usually insist it is after they experience hear about, or see, an upsetting crime.

“We all know, of course, that doesn’t mean it’s getting worse. There are places that are getting worse, places that are having trouble, like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago – but other places like Los Angeles are having safe years,” he said.

“And, in 2016, Salisbury had its safest year on record. It’s good news. It’s really good news,” the mayor told the Salisbury Independent.

In 2016, the total number of Part One crimes was 5.36 percent lower than it was in 2015.

In 2009, Day recalled, the FBI Crime Report listed the city as having the fourth highest crime rate per capita.

“You look at us today and it has just dropped dramatically. You look back 30 years and this is lowest Part One crimes have been and we’ve tripled in population in that time,” Day said, crediting the Police Chief Barbara Duncan and SPD officers for their hard work and integration in neighborhoods, where they are becoming better known and trusted.

Homicides, too, are fewer. There were two last year, down 33.33 percent from 2015.

Keonte Gaskin was killed in May at an apartment complex. Police arrested Gerald Ogress Savage Jr., 18, of the 400 block of Brookridge Drive, and Joshue Isiah Perry, 18, of the 400 block of S. Kaywood Drive.

The day after Christmas, James Edward Joyce, 31, of Salisbury was killed after a shooting on Baker Street. Police said they are still investigating.

There was one homicide in 2007; four in 2008; four in 2009; seven in 2010; one in 2011; one in 2012; none in 2013 or 2014; and three in 2015.

By the end of last year, rape, aggravated assault and burglary were the lowest they had been in Salisbury in 10 years, from 2007 to 2016. Citizens called for police help more often — 24 percent more this year than last year, according to police statistics.

A graphic the mayor and Duncan released charts crimes for the past 10 years, indicating:

  • Rapes – 22 in 2015, 12 in 2016, for a 45.45 percent decrease.
  • Robberies – 103 in 2015, 102 in 2016, for a .97 percent decrease.
  • Aggravated assaults – 161 in 2015, 158 in 2016, for a 1.86 percent decrease.
  • Thefts– 1,489 in 2015, 1,408 in 2016, for a 5.44 percent decrease.

There were 314 juvenile arrests last year and 1,947 adults arrested.

Yet, the perception persists that Salisbury has a high crime rate.

“How do you change that? We have to make people feel safe. We increase the presence of officers Downtown and at City Park,” the mayor said.

Cameras in the parking garage, zoo and skate park are also part of the plan, as well as partnering with private businesses and security firms to expand that footprint. And, police officers are outfitted with body cameras.

“I’m not sure we’ll be able to change that perception in everybody’s mind.

“They want to write their own narrative. Part of the narrative they build themselves. It kind of makes them feel better. But we will increase patrols, increase our investment in our patrol officers, increase the number of take-home vehicles,” the mayor said.

“That is important. You’ll be seeing see more of that.”

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