CENTRAL FALLS – While crime overall last year in Central Falls remained historically lower than it’s been since 2004, some categories saw increases in line with wider trends amid an overall 3 percent uptick in crime.
Aggravated assaults were up, from 43 in 2021 to 63 last year, while simple assaults, which includes domestic incidents, were down, from a high of 208 in 2017, to 176 in 2021, to 153 last year.
For the first time in five years, there were no murders in the city last year, after at least one was committed in each of the previous four.
The Breeze reported earlier this month that serious crimes were up slightly in Central Falls last year, but the 841 total reported incidents remain consistently far lower than they were a decade ago. That data, officials clarified this week, was actually all crime incidents in the city, not just more serious crimes. There were 956 total incidents in 2018, down from 1,469 incidents in 2012. Crime here is at its lowest since 1989, according to police.
Police provided more detailed data this week in response to a Breeze request.
Thefts from motor vehicle were down from 61 in 2021 to 47 last year, while burglary/breaking and entering cases were also way down, from 49 to 25. Thefts from buildings were up slightly, from 17 to 18, while theft of vehicles doubled, from 26 to 52, a number that’s consistent with figures from five years ago. Thefts of motor vehicle parts increased slightly, from eight to 10.
Weapons law violations were also up, from 36 to 44, while drug offenses were up slightly, from 32 to 34.
All other larcenies spiked from 84 incidents to 114 in 2022.
Central Falls Police Chief Anthony Roberson said he hopes that larceny trends will take a downswing with more businesses taking proactive steps to prevent catalytic converter thefts, which has been part of a national trend.
When it comes to serious crimes such murder and manslaughter, says Roberson, community policing is the main influencing factor that has kept incidents historically low.
“With community policing, you have the three facets of problem-oriented policing, community engagement, and community relations, in order to solve problems instead of tracking them down,” said Roberson.
For house calls related to disturbances, officers are now equipped with the appropriate tools to handle serious cases through direct intervention instead of just writing a report or immediately arresting someone, he said.
“If a resident is a nuisance, instead of just taking down a report, officers reach out to (our) task force and the resident’s landlord to see if there are any resources or enforcement needed to address the need/issue (with the perpetrator),” said Roberson.
With issues such as homicide and gun violence, officers take as much of a proactive role as possible, with the goal of deterring those crimes before they are committed.
“With those that appear to be harmful, we do more direct intervention to determine if there are mental health issues, for example. For those that typically commit an offense and have mental illness, we go about addressing the mental health issue. We get them the help needed to address (the issue) long-term,” said Roberson.
The CFPD partners with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the Office of the Attorney General, to communicate directly with the community in an effort to deter serious crime. For juveniles, this includes going to schools, talking with parents, and getting referrals to outside resources from organizations like the Juvenile Hearing Board to support juveniles with changing their behavior before being taken into custody.
“I am a fan of organizations that are content experts and I hold partnerships so dear because it is what is needed; no more automatic arrests. We use partnerships strategically to diminish crimes and improve the quality of life for all,” said Roberson.
Current advocacy and support initiatives
In 2021, the CFPD formed a partnership with Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, which has been a tremendous resource to assist with domestic violence incidents, according to the chief. While perpetrators are typically arrested once law enforcement is called in, the trauma that victims are left with may go unaddressed.
Through the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, victims are given relocation options and support during hospital visits. Advocates arrive at the scene and accompany victims to the hospital, and later provide post-visit counseling while keeping victims informed of what is going on with their case.
Roberson said they have seen a 100 percent improvement with how domestic violence victims go through the process after violence. As someone who has been in law enforcement for 23 years, he said he knows what it’s like to approach incidents without support to address the trauma component.
“Advocates are someone ‘to hold your hand’ and get victims through the process, which goes a long way,” he said. With domestic violence victims being predominately female, there are also female advocates available to offer invaluable female-to-female support, he noted.
CFPD has also been trained by the Non-Violence Institute in non-violence skills and tactics for use on the job.
Thanks to this training, officers recognize when they need to remain calm in order to identify distress in others they are dealing with, which yields better interactions, according to the chief.
“For officers that go from call-to-call with high violence situations, the skills provide steps to maintain their own well-being as well as for others,” Roberson said.
As reported by The Breeze last May, CFPD has received online training through St. Elizabeth Community to crack down on elder abuse or scams. With many in the elderly community facing physical and financial harm from others, the online training provided the tools and resources “that can help keep victims safe, and suspects held accountable.”
Lastly, the CFPD entered a partnership with Ring for residents to participate in the voluntary Camera Registration Program, where they can share videos of criminal activity with law enforcement captured with their Ring doorbell cameras.
Residents and business owners participating in the program can register the locations of their video surveillance systems with CFPD. When a crime occurs, police can identify the location of nearby cameras and enlist community assistance to collect video evidence of criminal activity.
“The program plays a good part in the decrease of breaking and entering; breaking and entering incidents have decreased, and it corresponds with the low numbers,” said Roberson.
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