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Heroin Injects 8% Property Crime Increase, Violent Crime Up 2%; H.P.D. Technical Advance Gives City "Fighting Chance"
"The increase in heroin into the area has not only been a strain on police resources, but on all first responders including EMS, fire, Cabell County 911 and local hospitals," the executive summary of the report states. The Huntington Police Department (HPD) continues working together with federal, state, and local agencies "to achieve the common goals of identifying , disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations and reducing the demand for drugs."
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams stated, "“We are facing the same challenges presented by substance abuse as every community throughout Appalachia. Substance abuse has reached epidemic proportions. It drives the increase in crime throughout the region. Fortunately," he continued, " we have had recent success in large heroin seizures which has diminished the supply significantly. Until the substance abuse problem is resolved we will feel as though we are running in sand. However, we are fortunate that we have the most advanced Police Department in this region of the country. HPD gives us a fighting chance.”
Reported criminal incidents rose to 6250 offenses in 2013 compared to 5,947 in 2012. That's a 4.8% increase. Guyandotte (District 9) had the lowest with 380 reported crimes. By contract, the downtown area had 1,512.
Councilman Rick Simmons told HNN, "I think it is great that my district had the best stats of 2013...However, the stats would be a little more accurate if the citizens would report all crimes committed in the area." He explained that " I have half of the Highlawn neighborhood in my district and they have a page where they communicate concerning emergencies and criminal activities. They look out for each other and that is what it takes...Look out and take care of each other in your community."
An 8% property crime increase (about 250 incidents) has been "tied to the heroin epidemic we are combating." Specifically, incidents went from 3,029 (2012) to 3,272 (2013), which is 8%. The report attributes the rise in vehicle break ins. District 3 reported 703 property crime incidents; Districts 2 and 9 each reported 208.
Violent crime incidents increased by five incidents, the report said. The downtown area had 73 and Westmoreland 11. Total incidents were 257 versus 252 in 2012.
Robberies in downtown (District three) represented over half the district's violent crime. All violent crime in the district shows 73 incidents (2013), 64 incidents (2012) and 85 incidents (2011). There were 39 robberies in 2013 compared to 50 in 2011. Forcible rapes reports have "steadily decreased" with six (2013), nine (2012), and six (2011). 28 aggravated assaults were reported. One "justifiable homicide" was reported, but otherwise "there have been no deaths that would be classified as murder.
Downtown's "hot spot" has shifted directionally but remains near the bus station. Now, Fourth Avenue and 12th Street (west of the station) has the "greatest concentration" for 2013. Last year, it was Fifth Avenue and 14th Street (southeast of the station).
Property crimes downtown represented 21.5% of the city's 2013 property crimes, particularly burglary and larceny. Larceny from vehicles have their "greatest concentration" near Elm Street and Seventh Avenue, an area traditionally known for Marshall University student housing. However, vehicle break-ins represents a city-wide challenge.
On the other hand, vandalism , public intoxication and simple assaults have gone down, while prostitution in the district has been flat.
The West End (District 2) has benefited from the department's River to Rail emphasis. Although it has a "slightly above" ranking, Total crimes reported rose from 746 (2012) to 873, which is still lower than the 2011 high of 903. Violent crime dropped to 31 offenses. No murders occurred, but there were 19 robberies, eight aggravated assaults, and four forcible rapes. 13.97% of the city's criminal offenses occurred in West Huntington. The current hot spot is towards the shopping area on W. 14th Street and Madison Avenue. Burglaries have gone from 148 to 178 concentrated near W. 15th Street and Washington Avenue. Drug offenses increased due to a concentrated presence of undercover operations and arrests therefrom.
Although District 4 (South Side/Harveytown) has the city's second lowest crime rate, the area went from 8 to 17 violent offenses, including three forcible rapes and one murder. The murder remains under investigation.