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Cambridge Crime Continues Downward Trend

Cambridge Police find 13 percent less 'serious crime' year-to-date than in 2013.

By Ivan B. K. Levingston and Tyler S. B. Olkowski, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: July 23, 2014, at 2:40 p.m.

Serious crime in Cambridge decreased significantly during the first half of 2014, according to a recent report released by the Cambridge Police Department.

Through the end of June, Cambridge has experienced 13 percent less “serious crime” compared to the first two quarters of 2013. A weighted, five-year average indicated an even sharper drop of 22 percent during the past year. According to Dan Wagner, a CPD lieutenant who oversees crime analysis, crime fluctuates constantly, and the five-year average is the best way to understand recent figures.

The report comes just months after the department’s announcement that serious crime in Cambridge hit a 50-year low in 2013.

Though Wagner said that crime is trending down across the U.S., he noted that CPD has been better positioned than most departments because it was able to weather the recession without layoffs.

He added that there are a wide variety of other factors that have allowed CPD to better combat crime across the city, ranging from colder weather to better use of data.

“We continue to try to make better use of data and ensure we’re implementing evidence-based strategies,” Wagner said. “Partnerships with the community are important; we have a very good relationship with the community.”

An example of CPD’s community partnerships, Wagner said, is the department’s “Focused Deterrence” program, which pairs officers with social workers to help at-risk individuals connect with social services.

A closer look at certain types of crime reveals additional downward trends. In particular, property crimes, a key indicator of overall crime according to the report, are down 13 percent over the past year, a decrease which represents 160 fewer reported incidents.

The report also noted an unusually low incidence of larceny in Harvard Square, which it attributed to the incarceration of “prolific thieves.”

Increases in crime so far in 2014 included auto thefts, which increased 27 percent, residential larceny, which increased 14 percent, bike larceny, which increased 2 percent, and commercial burglary, which increased 22 percent.

Though overall property crime is down, the report highlighted the area around Central Square as the location that, as in previous years, experiences the most concentrated crime in Cambridge.

Violent crimes have largely dropped across the board, including a 53 percent decrease in street robbery over the past year. However, CPD reported an increase of five reported incidents of rape compared to last year’s numbers.

Wagner said that this fact isn’t cause for concern in it of itself.

“As we know the crime of rape is way underreported, so a very small change looks significant,” Wagner said.

—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.

—Staff writer Tyler S. Olkowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @OlkowskiTyler.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: July 23, 2014

An earlier version of this article misquoted CPD Lieutenant Dan Wagner. In fact, he said that the Department is trying to implement "evidence-based strategies," not "evidence-based statistics."

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