Milwaukee police release 2012 crime stats report

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by Chris Patterson

From the Milwaukee Police Department:

The crime rate in Milwaukee in 2012 was essentially unchanged from 2011. There were 289 fewer Part 1 crimes1 in Milwaukee in 2012, a decrease of about 1% compared to 2011. A significant drop was recorded in robberies, with a 13% decrease or 446 fewer than the previous year. Reductions were also seen in burglaries (4.3%) and theft (4.5%). Violent crime (homicides, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies) has declined 16% over the past six years, while property crime (burglary, theft, auto theft, and arson) has declined 22% since 2007. As previously reported, there were five more homicides in 2012 than in 2011.

Aggravated assaults increased 33% in 2012, and contributing to this increase is a 48% rise in domestic violence related assaults. In 2011, the Milwaukee Police Department’s citywide focus on domestic violence led to a collaborative expansion with the District Attorney’s Office and the Sojourner Family Peace Center. This initiative may have contributed to the increase in domestic violence reporting. In fact, in 2012 the Sojourner Family Peace Center reported 5,602 referrals compared to 4,299 in 2011. Despite the increase in aggravated assaults in 2012, Milwaukee has seen a 16% decrease since 2007.

“A 21 percent decrease in crime in Milwaukee over the past five years shows that our community-based, problem-orientated, and data driven policing strategies are having an impact,” said Chief Edward Flynn. “The recent increases in some categories clearly illustrates that work still needs to be done, but I’m encouraged that greater outreach and collaboration in the area of domestic violence prevention may have increased citizen confidence. It appears that this confidence is leading to more reporting.”

The attached data sheet prepared by the Milwaukee Police Department’s Office of Management, Analysis and Planning offers greater detail and analysis of crime data from Milwaukee, and comparable cities.

The following is a summary of 2007-2012 Part I crime data as defined by FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) standards. Included is historical information and comparative statistics that provide context to Part I crime in Milwaukee. In 2012, the City of Milwaukee reported decreases in the following crime categories: Robbery (13.2%); Burglary (4.3%); and Theft (4.6%), and reported increases in Homicide (5.7%); Rape (7.4%); Aggravated Assault (33.1%); Auto Theft (4.7%) and Arson (7.7%). Violent crime overall – homicides, rape, aggravated assaults, and robberies declined by 16.3% over the six years. Similarly, overall property crime which includes burglary, theft, auto theft and arson declined 22.6% over the six years, as illustrated in Table 1.

In order to understand the context of the 2012 numbers, Table 2 compares 2012 data to a normal range of expected values, avoiding conclusions based on single year anomalies. As noted below, the report puts data in a broader context through a six-year trend.

Although, the City of Milwaukee is reporting a 5.7% increase in 2012 homicides, comparable cities of similar demographics, populations and poverty rates reported homicide increases between 7% and 29%. In 2012, firearms were used in 73 homicides, accounting for 81% of the total. Male victims accounted for 93% of the homicide victim total and African-Americans represented 81% of homicide victims. The most frequent motive for homicide was an argument or fight (37%), followed by robbery (23%) and drug related (23%) crimes. Since 1990, homicides have declined 42.8% in the City of Milwaukee and decreased 15.7% during the past decade (2002-2012).

Although there was a 7.4% increase in rape, there was a 7.2% decline from 2007 and the total falls within the normal range of the past five year average (195-223). Rapes perpetrated by a stranger decreased 5% from 2011, accounting for 20% of the 2012 total. The majority of reported rapes with a known offender remain consistent with national trends.

In 2012, aggravated assaults increased 33.1% (4,333) from 2011 (3,256), but there was a 16.2% decline over the past six years and it is within the normal range of the past five year average (3474-4956). In 2012, firearm related aggravated assaults increased 22%1. This overall increase in assaults is consistent with national trends as reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported an 18% increase in the number of violent victimizations from 2010 to 2011 and that increase was driven by assaults.

In 2012, domestic violence related aggravated assaults increased 48%2. In 2011, the Milwaukee Police Department’s city-wide focus on domestic violence led to a collaborative expansion with the District Attorney’s Office and Sojourner Family Peace Center. This initiative may have contributed to the increase in domestic violence reporting. In 2012, Sojourner Family Peace Center reported 5,602 referrals compared to 4,299 in 2011, accounting for an overall increase of 30%. Additionally, Sojourner Family Peace Center reported 3,454 advocacy engagements compared to 2,016 in 2011, accounting for a 71% increase3. According to Sojourner Family Peace Center, long-term mental health care, long-term abuse, severity of abuse, and military veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) are also factors contributing to the increase4.

Although there was a 4.7% increase in auto thefts over 2011, this crime has declined 38.4% over the past six years and falls within the normal range of the past five year average (4290-6993). In 2012, juveniles ages 16 and younger arrested for operating a vehicle without owner's consent (OAWOOC) increased 93% and similarly, juvenile charges for OAWOOC increased 106%. The auto theft increase began in January and peaked during July through September.

Arsons increased 7.7% (293) in 2012 from 2011, but the city experienced a 16% decline over the past six years which is within the normal range of the past five year average (267-353). In 2012, there was a 63% (135) increase in reported fires at vacant properties over 2011 (83)5. In 2012, the City of Milwaukee taxpayers incurred an estimated $572,400 for fire and police personnel and resources to respond to fires at vacant properties6.

In 2012, the 9.4% violent crime increase and the 3.1% property crime decrease are reflective of comparable city crime trends. Cities of similar size reported the following increases in violent crime: Charlotte-Mecklenburg (10%), Indianapolis (5%), and Dallas (1%), while the following cities reported decreases: St. Louis (-6%) and Los Angeles (-8%). The same cities reported the following decreases in property crime: Los Angeles (-1%), Indianapolis (-1%), Dallas (-12%), and St. Louis (-14%). Charlotte-Mecklenburg reported a 2% increase.

1 Based on the time period of January 1 - November 30, 2011 – 2012
2 Based on the time period of January 1 – November 30, 2011 – 2012
3 An “advocacy engagement” occurs when law enforcement and domestic violence advocates make victim contact.
Sojourner Family Peace Center – Executive Director Carmen Pitre
4 Sojourner Family Peace Center – Executive Director Carmen Pitre
5 Reported by the Milwaukee Fire Department – Amber Chandek
6 Reported by the Milwaukee Fire Department – Amber Chandek

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