“Obviously, they’re encouraging,” McCarthy says of the 2009 results, which showed precipitous declines in the number of both violent and nonviolent crimes. “But I have to say, it’s one year, and I can tell you that comparing last year to this year, we’re up.”
Through October of this year, there have already been 21 robberies, up from the full-year 2009 total of 10, McCarthy says. The number of reported burglaries, too, is up, to 29 through October, from 22 in all of last year, he says.
So far this year, three rapes have been reported, up from one last year. There have been no murders through October; 2009 had two a double homicide shooting on Locust Avenue.
McCarthy, who was unavailable for comment before redbankgreen posted an article on the release of the data Thursday, says residents should approach year-to-year crime figures with “caution.”
“Don’t read too much into it,” he says. “Look at the long-term trends.” Over the past five years, he says, crime rates are “slightly down.”
McCarthy, who became chief in January of this year, succeeding Mark Fitzgerald, attributed the 2009 decline in crime rates in part to the creation of an anti-crime unit, consisting of a detective and two patrol officers, working in plainclothes, usually at night and on weekends, to target street crime: assaults, drug dealing. Of particular focus, he said, was a wave of street robberies.
“They made it a priority to work on the street robberies, and they did,” bringing the number to a 10-year low, he says.
This year, he said, robberies remained a high priority, and drug dealing was added to the top of the list.
In both 2009 and this year, the anti-crime units targeted activity during warm-weather months. But manpower issues forced the curtailment of the unit’s work a month sooner than it did last year.
The department is down to 40 sworn officers, from 42 in 2009, McCarthy says. In addition, the department had to absorb furlough days imposed on all borough workers by the town council to deal with budget issues.
“We work on a very tight margin here,” he said.