City Council wants more stats info from police chief

Of the seven homicides in Salisbury so far this year, arrests have been made in five and the other two are continuing to be investigated, Police Chief Barbara Duncan told the City Council this week.

Giving the Quarterly Public Safety Briefing at the work session Monday, she offered an overview, but said it wasn’t clear to her before the work session that City Council wanted detailed graphs and crime statistics.

Council President Jack Heath asked her to provide the information at the next council meeting and she agreed.

“Given the uptick in crime, perceived or unperceived, we’d like to get some facts about how we’re doing and do that maybe on a quarterly basis,” Heath said.

Every Tuesday, the police department has a public briefing and at one of them, homicides were discussed, Duncan said.

“I can tell you that of the seven homicides, two are still open. They’re still investigating two of those now. The other five have been closed, by arrests,” she said.

The cases aren’t completely closed because they haven’t yet been prosecuted.

Heath asked how many homicides had drug involvement.

“It is our position that there is a nexus of narcotics with the majority of those homicides,” Duncan said.

“That answer didn’t inform me,” Councilman Hardy Rudasill said.

There is a difference between drug trafficking and the criminal arena, he said, so saying the majority of homicides involves drugs wasn’t an informative response.

Later, he said he wanted to apologize if he sounded abrupt.

Councilman Jim Ireton said Mayor Jake Day suggested “something along the lines of the report given every week.”

Ireton said he expected Duncan to have statistics. She asked him if he received regular briefings and he said he didn’t and he rarely has time to watch recordings of weekly briefings.

Duncan said there was 7 percent less crime the last week in August this year than the same week in 2016. During that week last year, there were 194 crimes compared to 185 this year. Giving a two-year comparison, she said crime is down 2.7 percent.

“Most of our crime is in the area of theft we are seeing across the board and across the city. Most of it is coming from items left in parked vehicles which are unlocked, sheds and other property left unlocked or unsecured on individual properties,” she said.

Police have been successful solving many of those crimes, she said, giving, as an example, an area in the Doverdale neighborhood where articles were being stolen and sold on a Website.

Residents were warned not to buy anything online from juveniles or if the price seemed too low.

“Lately, we have been working through a lot of quality of life issues in the Camden Avenue area involving theft, noise, garbage as people make their way to and from Downtown,” she said.

Ireton asked about the “structure in place and conversations we are having with neighboring agencies” and if more structure or funding are needed.

He said he couldn’t ask specific questions until he sees what the structure is, giving, as an example, the Safe Streets program he initiated when he was mayor.

“We have our Safe Streets Unit up and running. It’s a good model,” the chief said.

“I don’t believe the structure has changed. There have been no significant changes in structure as it relates to the Safe Streets process,” she said.

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