Police Chief: Crime Rate Went Down Last Year

Jamestown’s leading law enforcement official has announced that crime was down in the city during 2017.

On Monday, Harry Snellings, Jamestown Police Department chief and public safety director, said violent crimes and property crimes were both down in the city last year.

Snellings, while addressing the Jamestown City Council Public Safety Committee, said violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, decreased by 10.4 percent in 2017 when compared to 2016. Also, 2017 violent crime numbers were down 7.7 percent when compared to the five-year average between 2012-16.

Property crime, which includes burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft, decreased by 17.5 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, Snellings said. When compared to the five-year average, property crimes in 2017 were down 22.9 percent.

“Our numbers went significantly down,” Snellings said during the Public Safety Committee meeting.

Snellings also said that the total crime index rate per 1,000 people was at 33.9, which is the lowest rate during the last 25 years. The total crime index rate in 2016 was 40.6 percent, 39.7 in 2015 and 47.8 in 2014.

“Our numbers continue to go down,” Snellings said.

Snellings also discussed the Gun Involved Violence Elimination grant report. He said police responses increased by 9 percent in 2017, with a total of more than 33,000. He said the police department issued more than 1,200 traffic tickets last year as well.

Snellings said the location visited the most by the city’s police department in 2017 was UPMC Chautauqua WCA hospital to help deal with issues usually involving the mental health of a patient. He said the department averaged 82 arrests a month, with the second quarter being the worst.

During the report time for the grant, which is July to December, Snellings said there were six shootings in the city. He said for the entire year of 2017 there were eight shootings in the city. He said there were no gun murders during last year.

Snellings said in 2017 there were 1,200 domestic violence calls, which was similar to the 1,249 the department received in 2016.

While presenting his report, Snellings said the department uses a crime analyst, which is paid for through a state grant, who studies the numbers to help police personnel find “hot spots” for targeted enforcement. The Public Safety Committee invited Snellings to invite the analyst to a future Public Safety Committee meeting to discuss how crime statistics are used to curtail criminal activity in the city.

Snellings said the city’s police department 2017 Annual Report, which takes a closer look at the numbers, will be available in February and will be posted on the city website, jamestownny.net.

The GIVE initiative serves the counties of Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester. The initiative requires the jurisdictions to focus exclusively on reducing and preventing shootings and firearm-related homicides.

The GIVE initiative builds upon the information sharing and partnerships developed under Operation IMPACT — a crime-fighting program implemented in 2004 to assist 17 counties that accounted for more than 80 percent of violent or property crimes in the state outside of New York City — while expanding the use of crime analysis, evidence-based practices and community partnerships to assist in the reduction of firearm-related homicides and shootings.

The GIVE initiative focuses on communities in the 17 counties served by 20 law enforcement agencies that collectively report 86 percent of the violent crime in the state outside of New York City. The GIVE initiative includes police departments in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Hempstead, Jamestown, Kingston, Middletown, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Schenectady, Spring Valley, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Yonkers, as well as Nassau and Suffolk county departments.

Crime-fighting strategies developed under GIVE vary by jurisdiction to enhance patrols in identifying “hot spots” or locations that have shown to be the most prone to gun violence; focused deterrence against violent gangs and groups considered responsible for the most gun violence in communities; increased supervision of individuals on parole and probation; and the deployment of street outreach workers to interrupt cycles of violence or prevent retaliation. GIVE also will provide technical assistance so that agencies can effectively implement those strategies.

GIVE provides funding to those 20 police departments, as well as district attorneys’ offices, sheriffs’ offices and probation departments in the GIVE counties. Grants are used to fund personnel, such as prosecutors and crime analysts, in addition to overtime, equipment, training and community outreach efforts.