Encouraged, Hopeful and Committed: Public Safety in Wilmington Improved Greatly in 2018

Mayor and Police Chief say community engagement, intelligence-led policing and directed patrols have helped to reduce gun homicides by 41%, shootings by 56%and overall crime by 6% while the homicide clearance rate has risen to 62% 

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Chief of Police Robert J. Tracy issued a 2018 year-end report on Wilmington’s vastly improving crime trends. The Mayor and Chief said they are encouraged and hopeful by the significant drop in gun-related crime reflected in the annual 2018 Compstat crime summary. At the same time, they said the Wilmington Police Department (WPD) is committed to continuing and strengthening the partnerships between the community and police to produce a further drop in crime in 2019 and beyond.

Chief Tracy said the WPD’s reliance on community engagement, intelligence-led policing, directed patrols and the Compstat city-wide crime analysis system has served the City well. The Mayor and Chief congratulated the men and women of the Department for embracing departmental reforms and for their dedication to duty. Mayor Purzycki and Chief Tracy also thanked citizens from throughout Wilmington who are interacting with police officers to prevent crime, help apprehend perpetrators, and lower the City’s crime rates.

According to the WPD’s 2018 Compstat report, shooting incidents have decreased to a level not seen in Wilmington in more than 15 years. When compared to the average number of shooting incidents from 2003 through 2017, which is 108, the 72 shooting incidents in 2018 represent a33% decrease over the 15-year period average.

The other 2018 year-end crime statistics include:

  • 19 gun homicides in 2018 compared to 32 in 2017 for a decrease of 13, or 41% (there were a total of 22 homicides in 2018, but three of those were domestic incidents that did not involve the use of a gun)
  • 62% homicide clearance rate in 2018, versus a 33% clearance rate in 2017, which is an improvement of 88%. The average national homicide clearance rate is 61%, which puts the WPD on par with the national average
  • 92 fewer shooting incidents in 2018, which is a 56% decrease over 2017—72 incidents versus 164
  • 115 fewer people shot in 2018—79 in 2018 versus 194 in 2017, which is a 59%decrease
  • 6% reduction in total crime in Wilmington in 2018 versus 2017 when taking into account the Part One crime categories of murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, and theft. The only 2018 increase in any crime category was in vehicle theft (4%) and aggravated assault (3%).

Chief Tracy highlighted two additional and important developments related to the improving public safety picture in Wilmington:

  • 30% decrease in citizen complaints filed against the WPD in 2018, with 54 filed last year versus 77 in 2017. The Chief believes this is an indication that citizens and police officers are working harder than ever to understand, respect and work with each other.
  • the decision last year at the Chief’s urging that the Federal Division of Alcohol, Tobaccoand Firearms (ATF) establish a Crime/Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) within the WPD’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). The CGIC, operated by the ATF, assists the Wilmington and New Castle County Police Departments with enhanced evidence testing processes that reduce the amount of time it takes to send results back to the respective agencies. The Chief said the WPD is the only mid-sized police department (based on authorized staff strength) in the United States that has an ATF-managed CGIC embedded within its department. 

Mayor Purzycki said he is immensely impressed with how effectively Chief Tracy has implemented needed departmental policing and operational reforms in the 20 months since he was appointed to head the WPD. “We have had confidence in Chief Tracy since day one, and everything he told us would happen with regard to a new approach to policing in Wilmington has occurred,” said the Mayor. “The most gratifying of these reforms is the increased level of community engagement that we see each day between residents and police officers. This is a welcome change that guides the operations of the Department and contributes in a large way to its current successes. It would not happen if community engagement were not a top priority of the Chief and the men and women of the Department. The Chief has earned our City’s support and our gratitude for helping to save lives and keep our communities safer.”

Chief Tracy said his commanders and officers have responded extremely well to a new command structure and policing techniques. The Chief also thanked other law enforcement agencies that interact with the WPD on a routine basis for joint investigations and other types of assistance that have helped Wilmington mitigate crime. “We are approaching policing in a variety of ways, all of which are intended to assist our officers in performing their duties as they interact with citizens,” said the Chief. “We will continue to operate every day as though our most important asset is the community. We’ve worked hard to win the trust of citizens. We are actively seeking their assistance in curbing crime, and they are responding, which is why our crime trends are moving in the right direction.”

Chief Tracy encouraged citizens to track crime statistics numbers for all of Wilmington and particular neighborhoods on a regular basis by reviewing the WPD’s CompStat reports, which are published on the City’s website at http://bit.ly/2BqAONB.

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