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Big drop in 2011 Galveston crime rates

By Charles Wiley
Special to The Daily News
Published March 10, 2011

The Galveston Police Department is pleased to announce that statistical data for the first two months of 2011 reflects a 33 percent decrease in major crimes as compared to the same period in 2010.

The most significant decreases are in the area of property crimes. Burglaries were reduced by 65 percent, robberies by 62 percent and auto thefts by 64 percent.

Total reports taken for that same time period were reduced by 9 percent, and calls for service were reduced by 12 percent. Property crimes have been a huge concern for the department for years and never has there been such a huge reduction in those offenses. The challenge for us will be to continue the effort for the long-term.

I attribute such significant reductions to the police department community-oriented policing initiatives.

Our Camstat initiative has empowered employees and encouraged statistical analysis and deployment of resources to address crime patterns. Officers and line supervisors are free to develop tactical operations that are specific to their areas of assignment without the need for bureaucratic approvals that slow our responses and micromanage operations that those line level officers and supervisors are best equipped to handle.

We've improved communication and exchange of intelligence information as it relates to crime on the island.

We continue to improve our equipment and better manage our resources. Our partnerships in the neighborhoods are stronger than ever, and we continue to improve our capabilities to network with our customers.

It's noteworthy that this report issues in the aftermath of budget cuts and loss of personnel. There have been those who have predicted increases in crimes, reported offenses, and calls for service and claimed that the city would be less safe as a result of those reductions and those predictions have not come true.

This data reflects a real commitment from the members of our department to do more with less and make a difference in the lives of those who live and visit the island. I couldn't be more pleased with our work lately.

This is exactly what we predicted would happen when we entered into our community-oriented policing two years ago. We knew it would take some time and that organizational changes would be met with some resistance and, while we continue to work through issues that far too often become public concerns, we'll continue to get our work done and make our community safer.

Congratulations to the men and women of the Galveston Police Department.

Charles Wiley is chief of police in Galveston.