City leaders listen to a presentation by the Chief of Wilmington Police.
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Crime statistics for the city of Wilmington show that violent crime increased, while the number of major crimes committed decreased in 2013.
Police Chief Ralph Evangelous explained the numbers to city leaders at Tuesday's city council meeting.
Major crimes, or Part 1 crimes, dropped by 3 percent last year, according to Evangelous. He said less home invasions and car thefts are partially responsible. A subset of Part 1 crimes is violent crimes, like murder and assault.
Despite the drop in Part 1 crimes, violent crimes increased by 15 percent. The police chief said the department continues to make progress with the gang issue, but heroin sale and use is also a problem on city streets.
"We've got a lot of work to do, obviously," said Evangelous. "We can control this, but the problem is controlling it long term."
A long-term solution could include two gang prevention specialists, which city leaders approved an effort to obtain more than $70,000 in grant money for them. Mayor Bill Saffo said Tuesday if the grant doesn't work, then the city council would consider covering the cost of Evangelous deemed it necessary.
"We're doing everything in our power as a community, as a city council to give the police chief the resources he needs to combat this issue," Saffo said.
The downtown area, as defined by WPD as between the bridges and Fifth Street to the water, had zero reported violent crimes in December 2013. Evangelous said it's likely a first for the city and he credited the hard work of the downtown division for the result.
He said officer presence in downtown Wilmington is a major factor, and he would like to duplicate the resources and results from the downtown division throughout the city.