Data released today shows the largest city in western Massachusetts has seen a significant drop in crime.
Crimes against persons and property in the city of Springfield dropped 13 percent last year from 2016 and have decreased by 45 percent in the past five years, according to the Springfield Police Department.
" Crime is complex, but you have to celebrate the victories and this has been a tremendous year for us," said Police Commissioner John Barbieri, who along with Mayor Domenic Sarno, released the latest crime statistics at a City Hall news conference Tuesday.
According to the figures released by the police department, crimes including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault decreased by 15 percent in 2017 compared to the year before. The crimes of burglary, larceny, and auto theft were down a total of 12 percent from 2016-17.
Crime was down in every neighborhood in the city, according to the mayor. It mirrors a national trend of lower crime rates in urban areas.
" I am proud to say we are not arresting more people, we are arresting the right people," said Barbieri, who credited Springfield police officers working collaboratively with residents and business-owners to gather intelligence about criminal activity.
He also citied use of technology such as acoustic gunshot detectors, surveillance cameras, and the introduction of a real-time crime data analysis center.
" I am happy to say we are not doing zero tolerance," said Barbieri. " Our officers patrol the most vulnerable areas armed with information about who are the people in the neighborhood and what are the addresses that are most problematic."
In four high-crime neighborhoods where an innovative community policing program known as “C-3” is being used crime is down 12 percent, according to the department’s statistics.
The positive crime statistics are being touted as Springfield prepares to roll out an advertising blitz to highlight the city’s assets ahead of the opening later this year of the MGM casino, which is projected to attract tens of thousands of visitors daily.
Sarno said the image campaign will counter the impression that Springfield remains the city it was a decade ago: overrun by violent crime and nearly bankrupt.
"We continue to move in the right direction and we what to let everybody know that," said Sarno who added, "We are not going to rest on our laurels. We always strive to do more."
In anticipation of the MGM Springfield opening a new metro unit of 40 police officers is being trained and will be deployed soon.
A new police substation is being built downtown and several police booths with an officer stationed in each will be put along Main Street.