Crime plummets in Dayton: What’s really going on?

Crime has fallen dramatically this year in the city of Dayton, sparking speculation about what factors could be driving the welcomed trend.

Dayton police through the end of July received 1,200 fewer reports of property crimes and 380 fewer reports of violent crimes compared to the same period in 2016.

This may be the first time in a decade or longer that all four major crime categories have experienced sizable decreases at the same time, said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl.

If the trends continue, this could be a banner year for public safety in the city of Dayton.

The numbers hopefully are tied to new policing strategies and initiatives aimed at strengthening relationships between police and the community, according to local leaders.

Here’s a chart of the major crime categories through the end of July, and for the same periods in previous years.

Crime Category20132014201520162017
Part I violent731711720688649
Part II violent2,8262,7502,7242,8102,466
Part I property4,4964,4664,1394,3413,555
Part II property1,6481,5241,5041,6511,206

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The Part 1 violent category includes arson, breaking and entering, residential burglary, thefts from motor vehicles, shoplifting and other thefts. Part 2 includes blackmail, vandalism, stolen property offenses and forgery.

Some very large crime categories have nose-dived.

Crime category2016 2017% change
Armed robbery175148-15%
Aggravated assault314304-3%
Residential burglary849670-21%
Theft from motor vehicle816584-28%
Motor vehicle theft459349-24%

The news hasn’t been all positive, however. Killings are up from last year, and so are drug violations. Pick-pocketing is on the rise, and firebugs have been busier this year.

Crime category20162017% change
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter1822+22%
Drugs/narcotics violations698758+9%
Commercial arson810+25%

Overall violent crime and most gun crimes have declined, though aggravated assaults with firearms has increased 24 percent this year, stats show.

Biehl and other officials say the data is exciting and the trends hopefully will continue through the end of the year.

“We’re a safer city,” Biehl said. “This year is rather unique in that these declines are steep.”

Some credited what they say is growing goodwill and trust in the Dayton Police Department.

Dayton police officers seem to feel that the city’s and police department’s efforts to improve relations with the community are working and paying off, said Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams.

Residents’ attitudes about the Dayton Police Department appear to be changing for the better.

A citywide survey earlier this year found that 74 percent of residents feel that Dayton police officers are somewhat or every respectful when dealing with citizens.

That’s unchanged from a year ago. But compared to last year, fewer residents said officers were somewhat disrespectful (8 percent, down 3 percentage points) or very disrespectful (4 percent, down 1 percentage point).

RELATED: Police to target ‘micro areas’ of violent crime

Police cannot do their jobs alone, according to leaders, who say officers need the community’s help to uncover crime and solve it.

Police also said they hope that their crime-fighting strategies are making a difference. Biehl said crime pattern analysis seeks to interrupt criminal activities and his department’s new focus on violent gun crime hopefully is working.

RELATED: Violent Dayton gun crimes prompt police changes

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