Police stats show crime trends on the decline

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – The South Hadley Police Department responded to 21 percent fewer crimes in 2013 when compared to 2012.
Of those crimes committed in 2013 – which total 2,513 – larceny, breaking and entering, burglary and stolen property offenses were significantly fewer when compared to 2012 statistics.
Destruction and vandalism crimes remained relatively the same. Incidents of robbery, however, increased.
“I feel good that some of our crimes are going down,” said South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela. “It’s the presence our officers have out there.”
South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie agreed. I’m impressed,” he said. “Because not only do they show a decrease from 2012 to 2013, but from 2011 to 2012.”
Property crimes are a good indicator of how a police department is performing, said LaBrie, because the department “has some ability” to deter these kinds of crimes.
Larcenies totaled 134 in 2013, compared to 225 in 2012, for a 40 percent decrease.
“That’s a big decline, said Labrie. “Those are the trends that I like to see. That’s how I look at measuring whether or not we’re doing a good job.”
Burglaries and incidents of breaking-and-entering totaled 77 in 2013, compared to 129 in 2012, also for a 40 percent decrease. Stolen property offenses amounted to 9 in 2013 and 11 in 2013.
Incidents of destruction and vandalism totaled 192 in 2013 and 189 in 2012.
“It has been proven with property crimes that a vigilant police department with a high presence in the community deters that kind of crime,” said LaBrie. “Whether it be breaking and entering into cars or homes and stealing things from residents.”
The South Hadley Police Department currently employs 25 full-time police officers. Four patrols cover the town on a regular basis.
“We’ve tried to create a sense of a high police presence,” said LaBrie. “You’ll see us monitoring traffic on Main and Bridge streets, Newton Street and Lyman Road.” Many businesses are located in those areas. Stationing police presence there is a strategic move by the department to deter crimes such as shoplifting. In 2013, the department responded to 28 reports of shoplifting, down from 50 in 2012.
Motor vehicle accidents are down, too. LaBrie attributes part of that to the new rotary. This decline will lower insurance rates for residents, he said.
State grants allowed the department to employ two separate traffic enforcement operations in 2013. For the Click It or Ticket campaign and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, additional patrols were funded to monitor traffic.
Incidents of driving under the influence totaled 28 in 2013, a 50 percent decrease from 56 incidents in 2012.
LaBrie said some offenses with smaller number pools can skew data. In the instance of reported cases of drunkenness, the number was 0 in 2013, but 4 in 2012 – making for a 400 percent decrease, because those numbers generally remain small.
One criminal on a breaking-and-entering spree can throw off numbers, too, especially when compared monthly. Examples of this include break-ins to a storage locker business, or thieves breaking into multiple cars in a neighborhood.
Overall, LaBrie said the South Hadley Police Department has become more proactive in an effort to not be reactive.
“I think they’re doing extremely well,” said LaBrie of his officers. “The word gets out there in neighboring communities that we’re an active police force.”
Residents who see a cruiser in their neighborhood tend to “feel better,” said LaBrie. But criminals? Not so much.