We are winding down on our event season and gearing up for the return to school for our students. As our students return to classes, I ask that you be particularly aware of the children as they walk through our district and across intersections heading for school. Please slow down in school zones, be aware of areas frequented by students, and in particular please be cognizant of the rights of pedestrians as they traverse our streets. We have been successful in decreasing accidents in the district so far this year, and I believe it’s in part by your awareness, our education, and at times, our enforcement efforts in areas that have traditionally been plagued by frequent accidents. As school begins, officers will have an increased presence in and around the schools looking for violators and having a generally increased visible presence for the safety of the children and residents in the area.
Speaking of school, Northern Station officers and nearly 40 police recruits currently in the Police Academy participated in the recent backpack giveaway at Ella Hill Hutch Community Center. On Saturday, August 10, our officers, along with a number of officers in training at the Academy, helped pass out more than 2,000 backpacks to local children in the community. The giveaway allowed for many less-fortunate children to have not only a backpack but school supplies necessary for their success as school begins. This program, sponsored by Mo Magic, has grown significantly and provided supplies for students as well as an opportunity for the children of our district to interact with officers, and officers-to-be, in a positive and productive environment. A special thanks goes to Sheryl Davis, the coordinator of Mo Magic and the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, as she worked tirelessly not only in this event but events throughout the year for our children. I’m happy that our officers can participate in these types of events, and I’m particularly pleased that we are integrating our newest officers-in-training, to instill in them the responsibility we have to our youth and the opportunity for them to start their careers on a path of success for community engagement and outreach.
I don’t often write about particular criminal incidents, arrests, or our officers here. However, for this article I thought it appropriate to write about some recent incidents plaguing the Northern District and the officers who addressed the issue. Over the past month or so there has been a rash of auto burglaries in and around the Palace of Fine Arts. At its height, we had in excess of 15 auto break-ins over a three week period within just a few blocks of the venue. I even received e-mails from concerned neighbors who saw broken glass or suspicious activity and inquired what we were doing about it.
As a response, I tasked my undercover unit (a group of seven officers who work undercover in plain clothes) to review the incidents and come up with a plan of action to curb the uptick in break-ins and apprehend the suspects responsible. Led by the supervisor of the unit, the team saturated the area, conducted surveillance over an extended period, gathered critical information, and ultimately made an arrest of two individuals responsible for many of the auto break-ins. After making the arrest of the individuals, the officers determined the vehicle they were utilizing in the crime was stolen and within the vehicle was property belonging to and recovered for victims of many of the thefts.
While we are very happy to have made the arrests, we are not resting on our laurels and believe that other suspects continue to operate in the area and throughout the Northern District whom we will continue to pursue. However, I thought it was appropriate to notify you about the recent issue and provide you with information on the hard working personnel of Northern Station actively engaged in apprehending criminals to make our streets safer. In the future, should you have information on suspicious activity or crimes you believe we should know about, please let me know so we can be aware of the activity and formulate plans to address your concerns.
I’m pleased to see that crime in the district and citywide has been decreasing over the past few months. Compared to a few months ago, we have seen a significant drop in property crimes, including an 11 percent decrease in auto-break-ins and a 12 percent decrease in property crimes overall over the past month. Though we are still up in property crime this year as compared to the same time last year, our property crimes have decreased from being up almost 44 percent to now being up about 24 percent, a 20 percent drop. Here are the citywide crime statistics and the statistics for Northern Station thru July 2013 as compared to the same time last year:
Violent Crime +12 percent
Property Crime +11 percent
Violent Crime +8 percent
Property Crime +24 percent