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Crime Trends '04

Outgoing station commander presents 'State of the Highway.'

Tampering and destruction incidents in the Mount Vernon district are down; larceny and burglary have increased. Robbery is down 17 percent, but auto thefts have increased by 8.7 percent. Sex crimes, rape and aggravated assault cases have all declined, but the homicide rate has increased 400 percent from 2003 to 2004.

These are some of the statistics presented by Major Larry Moser, outgoing Mount Vernon Station commander, in his “State of the Highway” address for 2004 to the Mount Vernon Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC). This would be his final presentation as commander. Captain Michael Kline has already assumed the helm of the station and will be formerly recognized in a Change of Command ceremony on Friday, Feb. 4, at noon.

Moser said that the numbers had not yet been vetted, but felt comfortable reporting on the statistics. He explained that numbers can be construed in many different ways. For example, while there was a decrease in tampering overall, there was a significant increase in another area. Moser said it was feasible that a dozen or so incidents could have been caused by the same group in one night, making the numbers in one area rise significantly. The huge percentage increase in homicides reflected the five homicides in Mount Vernon this year contrasted to one last year.

“I wish I could say they didn’t happen, but I am proud of the fact that five of the five cases have been closed,” Moser said.

He also likes the number of 18.9 percent that reflects the decrease in violent crimes — rape, aggravated assault and homicide — overall.

HE SAID THAT the officers really want to get people off the street and not only do they apprehend the suspects, but they do a thorough investigation in preparation for trial. One of those officers, Officer Geoff Carrigan, was recognized as the CAC Officer of the Month. He was responsible for locating and apprehending the suspect in the most recent homicide case: the death of the 7-11 clerk before Christmas. A letter nominating him for the award said, in part, “Carrigan is consistently above average. He is professional and dedicated to duty.”

The letter went on to explain how Carrigan had already worked his regular shift and agreed to cover for an officer who was sick. Even though he had been working for many hours, when the call went out to locate the suspect, he pursued it.

“Thanks to Jeff, his killer will not go unpunished.”

Moser said that when they have homicides, they also have to ask, “Are there things we could have done to make a difference?”

One of those incidents — the shooting of Shawndre Fulton — was a result of domestic violence, and Moser believes that a new pilot program, where a domestic violence detective is proactively researching cases, will help prevent future incidents.

“We get 1.2 million calls to the communication center and that’s a tremendous volume coming through the pipeline,” Moser said. When it comes to domestic violence cases, Moser said that there are many repeat offenders and witnesses aren’t often cooperative. The Victim Services Unit is working on that and hoping to do some proactive work.

Moser went on give some statistics on traffic issues, saying that 2004 saw three fatalities and 2939 accidents. He said that while only 11,047 traffic stops were logged, 14, 436 arrests were made, so he knows that the officers are making far more calls than are reported. Moser also commented that good felony cases are made from traffic stops by astute officers.

KLINE SPOKE briefly, saying that he believes in aggressive police work, and expects the same kinds of numbers next year. He said that crime won’t go away, but that he will do his best to reduce it.

He also said that he would like to see better representation by Route One neighborhoods.

“I would like to see all aspects of the community and talk about their concerns. I want to see a Neighborhood Watch in Janna Lee, Sequoyah and Sacramento Drive — I’d like to see a more diverse crowd,” Kline said.

A few questions were asked about gangs, and Moser said that PFC Greg Bender is extremely aggressive in working with gang members, but added, “They will never be completely dissolved.”