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Worcester police break down crime statistics at packed neighborhood watch meeting

November 04, 2016

WORCESTER -- Eager citizens packed a Thursday night neighborhood crime watch meeting, some concerned, some wanting know more about how Worcester's men and women in blue get the job done.

Held at the Worcester Police Department headquarters, the meeting began with introductions from Chief Steve Sargent, City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. and Mayor Joseph Petty, who lauded the recent efforts of Worcester police to create neighborhood crime watches across the city, a collaboration that has officers working more closely with the community.

"I think we have the best police department anywhere in the country," Augustus said.

The neighborhood watch groups have had a tangible effect on the community.

When off-road vehicles such as ATVs and dirt bikes became a nuisance, Worcester police upped communication with neighborhood watch groups to help get the dangerous vehicles off the street.

Much of the presentation involved a break-down of Worcester crime statistics and detailed how city police use new systems like Shotspotter and CrimeReports.com to their advantage.

Overall incidents have gone up 5 percent since last year, but arrests have decreased by 3 percent. City cops have responded to about 115,000 incidents in 2016, making more than 5,000 arrests in the process.

Bright spots included a decrease in property crime, in nearly every category over the past five years, except vehicle thefts.

Thanks to the department's Shotspotter system, which employs a series of sensors to pinpoint the exact location of a gunshot, gun-related arrests have gone up from two last year, to 14 this year.

Tiana M. Antul, a department crime analyst, broke down a map showing concentrations of crime.

The highest concentration of crime, highlighted by a big red dot, was Worcester's local Walmart, on account of the number of shopliftings that occur there.

Towards the end of the meeting, the packed room was able to ask questions. For resident Winifred Octave, having her questions answered directly by the chief was important for her sense of safety in the city.

She pointed out a local park near Windsor and Lincoln streets that has seen an increase in drug activity, and requested that Worcester police send more patrols to the area.

Sargent consented.

"Even if it doesn't stop now, it makes me feel better that at least now they know and now they can do something," Octave said.

Mass Live: Worcester