Greetings from the North Police District! This has been another challenging year for the personnel of the North Police District. Since October of last year, our area has experienced several high profile, violent crimes including three homicides, several attempted homicides and a number of weapon violations. Citywide, there has likewise been an increase in weapons offenses and an increase in gang activity, particularly among the middle and high school age group. So what effect have these changes made?
These incidents have had a real impact on our district staff and our ability to deliver quality service. As you will read in Lt. Strassman's article, these incidents, while unrelated to one another, have dramatically impacted on the workload of our detectives tasked with follow up investigations. This workload impacts on our ability to be responsive to less serious crimes that are reported to us. Similarly, our Patrol, Neighborhood and Community Policing Team (CPT) personnel are doing more follow up investigations themselves. Given their workload, our staff has less time for the dayto- day relationship building work that is a core component of our community policing model. In this newsletter, you will read, examples of our community building efforts with the Middle Schools, with the City Neighborhood Resource Teams and our work coordinating public events to bring people together. These types of activities are vitally important to help bring this community together to address the complex problems we face.
These incidents have also created fear in our community, with people asking whether or not their community is still safe. The truth is that there is nothing good about increases in gang activity and weapon violence, and whether related to one another or not, multiple homicides in such a short time frame is not good. Madison has grown from a small town to a big city; a big city with emerging evidence of big city crime. This is where perspective becomes very important. While we have experienced a sudden increased number of violent incidents, violent and persons crimes are down significantly over the past 5 years; with 590 persons crimes reported in 2007 down to 395 in 2011. Property crimes have shown an even greater decrease in this same time frame; 2857 reported in 2007 down to 1344 in 2011 (Police Call-for-Service Data).
The message here is simple: there are problems in our community that require everyone be more mindful of their personal safety. Get to know and look out for your neighbors; create a neighborhood watch and organize walks. Individually, one needs to use good safety practices. Knowing crimes do occur, one should be aware of one's surroundings, travel with others when out at night or in secluded areas, tell people where you are going, when you will be and how you can be reached when out alone. At home, assure adequate lighting near your doors and windows, keep doors and windows secured, and do not leave valuables in view. As importantly, maintain a healthy vigilance but not an unhealthy fear. Our city has far lower levels of crime than other cities our size, and the total numbers of crimes are going down, not up. I urge you to use this change in our society as a signal to build stronger community instead of falling victim to isolating fear.
Take care and Be Safe.