Oregon shooting drove up 2019 Dayton homicides, but other crimes down

Last year was a tragic and traumatic one for Dayton, and the mass shooting in the Oregon District pushed homicides in the city to the highest level since the mid-1990s.

Despite that horrific event and a small uptick in violent crime, crime overall fell 10% in the city. Some serious crime categories saw even larger reductions, including robbery, aggravated robbery, residential burglary and breaking and entering, according to police data.

The drop in crime continues a long-running trend that “without question” means Dayton continues to become a safer community, Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said.

“Generally, it was a very safe year for the city of Dayton,” Biehl said. “With that said, obviously we had significant tragedies in our city that cannot be forgotten — and their significance cannot be understated.”

On Aug. 4, nine people were fatally gunned down in the Oregon District, and more than two dozen others were injured.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in state history, and the bloodshed resulted in Dayton ending last year with 53 homicide — 16 more than 2018, or a 43% increase, police data show.

Dayton had 37 slayings and non-negligent manslaughter incidents in 2018; 33 in 2017; and 39 in 2016, police data show. There were 27 in both 2014 and 2013.

Dayton has not had more than 42 homicides in a year since 2000.

The city had 57 killings in 1994, and 53 in 1993, 1991 and 1989. Homicides declined in the late 1990s.

Dayton's record for homicides was 105 in 1973, though the city was much larger then. Dayton's population was about 243,600 in 1970, compared to 140,640 today, according to the U.S. Census.

MORE: Area police chiefs share their top crime concerns

The Oregon District shooting was responsible for the lion’s share of the increase in murders and non-negligent manslaughter, police officials say. But there were other high-profile killings.

A man was charged with murder after crashing a stolen Riverside police cruiser in front of the Dayton Metro Library, killing two 6-year-old girls.

A homeowner who allegedly shot two teens trespassing in a West Dayton garage was charged with murder and felonious assault.

Three men accused of taking part in the fatal shooting of Dayton police Detective Jorge Del Rio were charged with multiple federal crimes, including intentionally killing a law enforcement officer aiding a federal investigation.

Other homicide victims this fall include a man shot and killed outside of a supermarketa man killed outside of a jazz club and a man shot while inside his car on Forsythe Avenue.

MORE: 2017 saw ‘remarkable’ crime decreases in Dayton. 2019 is even better.

Other types of crime that saw increases in 2019 included kidnapping and abduction (up 33%) and stolen-property offenses (up 1%).

There were 572 aggravated assaults in 2019, which was 61 more than 2018, or an increase of 12%.

Part 1 violent crime rose 2%, which was the only major crime category to see an increase, according to the Dayton Police Department’s Compstat report.

Otherwise, the numbers trended favorably for the city.

Part 1 property crime declined 11%, Part 2 violent crime fell 9% and Part 2 property crime declined 2%,

Disorder offenses (prostitution, etc.) were down 11%; drug and narcotics offenses were down 18%; and other crimes were down 14%, which includes traffic, impersonation and false pretenses, swindle and confidence game offenses.

Dayton police’s Compstat report shows 37 subcategories of crimes, and 32 saw reductions.

MORE: Beyond ‘cops on the dots’: How Dayton police are using data to battle crime hot spots

Part 2 property consists of 11 subcategories of crime, and all saw decreases, including commercial arson (down 40%), purse snatching (down 38%), shoplifting (down 30%), breaking and entering (down 12%), residential arson (down 10%) and residential burglary (down 9%), the data show.

In 2019, there were 135 robberies, which was 46 fewer than 2018. Aggravated robbery declined 3% to 233 incidents.

Crime has been falling for years, and there are wide range of causes, including evolving and improved policing and investigative methods and strategies and stronger community and civic involvement, which helps deter and solve crimes, said Chief Biehl.

RELATED: Crime plummets in Dayton in 2017: What’s really going on?

Dayton police’s command staff recently met to recap 2019 and review crime trends, especially emerging trends, and discuss what crime-fighting strategies are working and what else could help, Biehl said.

“Public safety is dynamic, so we will see shifts and trends,” he said. “The idea is always to use data to stay on top of trends and be very responsive to them in a timely manner.”

The Dayton Police Department aims to continuously innovate and will introduce some new policing strategies in 2020, including some focused on addressing domestic violence, Biehl said.

The police department relies on focused enforcement, but it also continues to use best practices in crime-reduction strategies and technology, said Lt. Col. Matt Carper, deputy director and assistant chief of police.

Late last year, the police department activated a new gunshot-detection system in northwest Dayton that officials hope will lead to the arrest and prosecution of more people who discharge firearms and will help solve cases by providing additional forensic evidence.

Carper said the department uses crime analysis to quickly identify patterns and disrupt criminal activities, and police focus on repeat offenders and locations with increasing or persistent violent crime.

Police need cooperation and participation from the public, and the department tries to interact and communicate with neighbors through newsletters, meetings, social media and other avenues, he said.

In 2019, the department also realigned some investigative personnel to try to better address focus areas with a more comprehensive approach, Carper said.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Dayton is generally very safe day-to-day, but she says gun violence and access to guns is an issue that has led to tragedy and threatens the community.

“We had some really tough things happen last year that were national issues hitting Dayton,” she said. “Gun violence is a really big issue across the country.”

Dayton mostly saw large decreases in crime in 2019

Homicides: 53 (+43%)

Aggravated assaults: 572 (+12%)

Robbery: 135 (-25%)

Drug/narcotic violations: 983 (-15%)

Breaking and entering: 652 (-12%)

Residential burglary: 937 (-9%)

Motor vehicle theft: 796 (-6%)

Aggravated robbery: 233 (-3%)

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