PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence leaders are crediting “great police work” for crime in the city being down since the height of the pandemic.
Officials released their mid-year crime report and data from the department shows gun-related crime is going down. During the second half of 2020, shooting incidents and victims spiked to levels police say they haven’t seen in nearly a decade.
“If you look at the data from 2010 to 2019 in Providence, it was continually going down and then the pandemic and the second half of 2020 we shot up like everyone else,” Col. Hugh Clements said. “We got a pretty good handle on it in the past couple of months and I think we are back to where we want to be and that’s trending in a downward direction.”
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In the first six months of 2022, data shows there have been 15 shooting incidents, down from 25 reported at this time last year. The number of shooting victims is also down to 19 this year compared to 35 at this time last year.
Clements added police are continuing to remove firearms off of the city’s streets. So far this year, 134 guns have been seized from the street, which is ahead of the pace of the 210 total firearms taken off the street last year.
“Every time those numbers decline, those are real people, real families, that don’t have to suffer the consequences of this,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said. “This cannot be done without good police work.”
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In recent weeks, Clements says police have made 26 gun arrests, 12 being high capacity, and nine of the arrests were made by the violent crime task force. Five of those guns were taken off the street this past weekend.
Police say those five weapons were all from separate incidents and officials are still investigating if the guns may be connected to a shots fired incident at a jewelry store on Wickenden Street on Sunday.
Clements says in once instance on the India Point Park bridge over the weekend, a patrol officer saw something “amiss,” confronted a man, and made an arrest using force.
“And what he saw was accurate, Clements said.
“He saw a young man possessing a firearm, and there were shots fired earlier, so he certainly averted more violence with the arrest of that individual and the seizure of that firearm,” he added.
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Although there have been 27 more aggravated assaults this year than there were during this time last year, Elorza says robbery and burglary offense statistics are more hopeful.
Since 2011, Elorza says there has been a steady decline. The city has seen 65% fewer robberies and 78% fewer burglaries this year than in 2011.
Homicides are down 60% this year, data shows. So far, there have been four homicides while in the first six months of last year there were 10 homicides.
“I wouldn’t read too, too much into those homicide numbers. So yes, we’re thankful that the numbers are down. But I think the most important statistic to look at is the number of shooting incidents and the number of shooting victims,” Elorza said. “Sometimes it’s just random whether someone who is shot loses their life or not. But there’s also reason for cautious optimism and reason to be hopeful there.”