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FBI reports violent crime up, property crime down

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 7, 2015

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ROCHESTER — Violent crimes in Rochester have increased over the last year, while the city’s property crime incidents have decreased, according to statistics recently released by the FBI.

The number of property crimes citywide fell from 109 incidents in 2013 to 107 in 2014, while Rochester’s violent crime spiked from nine incidents to 12 in the same span, according to the FBI’s 2014 Crime in the United States report.

Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm said the good thing about Rochester’s data is that the city has very small numbers, but he said the downside is that if there are small changes in those numbers, they add up to some pretty big percentages.

“The  numbers are so small that any change becomes obvious,” Schettenhelm explained. “Our goal is to have zero in all of these categories, (but) to be able to go year to year with as few crimes as we have is certainly a tribute to the citizens and the officers for keeping the city safe.”

Aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and rape were on the rise in Rochester in 2014. Aggravated assault went from eight incidents in 2013 to nine in 2014. Burglary jumped from 18 to 21, motor vehicle theft shot from two to eight, and rape increased from one to three incidents.

“What isn’t reported in these types of reports is the story behind them — how did they happen. … Really, what we are looking at are numbers, so statistics, but it really doesn’t paint a story necessarily of how to show that the city is still very safe. Again, you just have to get a feel for how these things happened, or maybe why they occurred in the city,” Schettenhelm said.

Larceny-theft incidents decreased in Rochester from 89 in 2013 to 79 in 2014, while murder and non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, and arson all stayed the same both years at zero incidents.

“What was good to see was that our larcenies, or thefts, were down,” he said. “That is probably the single most common crime that we have, and that is the most easily preventable. Most of our crime, in that regard, happens because of people basically making it easy by leaving things out, cars are unlocked, and that sort of thing, so the fact that that went down is probably a tribute to our residents and that they are taking those safety measures to keep garages closed and that sort of thing.”

Overall, Rochester is a safe community, according to Schettenhelm, who credited its residents and police officers for their partnership in keeping the city safe. The Rochester Police Department is a full-service police agency with its own dispatch center and 21 sworn officers.

“We have a very active and vibrant downtown,” Schettenhelm said. “We bring in a lot of people to the downtown, so in order to keep crime as low as we have, it’s just a great partnership between the residents and the Police Department to work together — even as busy as we are, and with our population being up a little bit — to keep crime at a manageable level. People should take some credit for living in and visiting a safe city.”

Nationally, violent crime — which includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — saw a 0.2 percent decrease. Property crime — which includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson — dropped by 4.3 percent nationwide, the 12th consecutive year that property crimes have shown a decline.

FBI Director James Comey said that for decades, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program has used statistics and information provided by law enforcement agencies to measure the nation’s crime problem.

“While tallying the numbers of homicides, armed robberies, aggravated assaults and other crimes is useful, it does not go far enough to help us determine how these crimes occur and what we can do to prevent these crimes in the first place,” he said in a statement. “One way to better understand what is happening in our communities is to increase participation in the National Incident-Based Reporting System. This database, known as NIBRS, doesn’t just include statistics. It gives the full picture  — the circumstances and the context involving each incident.”

While Comey said NIBRS data provides “a clearer and more complete picture” of the nature of crime in the United States, only a little more than a third of the nation’s law enforcement agencies feed data into the system.

“We need every agency, from the largest to the smallest, to submit data via NIBRS. The more comprehensive the data, the better prepared we will be to fight crime. And with this data, we can grow and adapt to ever-changing criminal threats.”

To view a complete report of the FBI’s crime statistics for 2014, visit www.fbi.gov.

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