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Stats show drop in violent crime

January 8, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Final crime statistics for the city of Huntington in 2018 released Wednesday show an overall drop of more than 21 percent in violent crime for the city.

The decrease comes after one of the most violent years in Huntington’s history. Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said Wednesday he believes the numbers are encouraging.

“We see this as an indication we are going in the right direction and will continue to modify our response as needed. We see it as the beginning of a positive trend,” he said. “We hope to continue the trend in the years to come and will continue to modify our programs to ensure it does.”

The Herald-Dispatch previously reported crime rates for 2018 through mid-December.

In the complete 2018 statistics, HPD saw a decrease of 13.6 percent in property and violent crimes, which they report yearly to the FBI. The categories include aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, robbery, arson, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

Overall, violent crime dropped 21.3 percent from 3,025 cases in 2017 to 2,615 in 2018. The largest drop in crime from 2017 to 2018 was a nearly 58 percent decrease in murder from 19 to eight in 2018. Several cities across the nation including Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville and Detroit also reported drastic decreases in homicides rates.

Robbery dropped 30 percent from 142 to 99, and aggravated assault dropped 20 percent from 191 to 152.

Forcible rape increased more than 2 percent from 75 to 77. Dial said the police department is currently working with community organizations to find a way to reduce that number in 2019.

Property crime also saw a 12 percent decrease from 2,598 cases to 2,279. Burglary saw a 17 percent decrease from 660 to 544 and motor vehicle theft decreased 16 percent from 248 to 208. Larceny decreased 9 percent from 1,672 cases to 1,509.

Eighteen arsons were reported in the city in both years.

Overall, HPD responded to 18 percent fewer calls in 2018, from 10,125 in 2017 to 8,292 in 2018.

Using a city population of 47,933, the violent crime rate was 700 per 100,000 in 2018. The number is a decrease from 2017, which was 890. With a city population of 49,190, the Huntington’s violent crime rate in 2016 was 644 per 100,000 citizens in 2016, an increase from 545 in 2014 and 593 in 2015.

In comparison, Charleston reported to the FBI 572 violent crimes in 2017 with a violent crime rate of 1,172 using a city population of 48,788, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Nationally in 2017, the violent crime rate overall averaged about 383 per 100,000, according to the FBI UCR. Cities with a population between 25,000 and 49,999 averaged a violent crime rate of about 298. West Virginia averaged a violent crime rate of about 351.

All city populations were estimated by the FBI. The 2018 Uniform Crime Report will not be released for several months.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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