BRISTOL - Most major crimes in the city dropped last year, following a trend in recent years that hiccupped slightly in 2017.
With the exception of rapes and robberies, major crimes - as defined by state police - either went down or stayed the same in 2018 in Bristol, compared to the year before.
“I am committed to community policing and think that there have been positive results with the efforts last year to have special units…that yielded positive results,” Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said.
“I also think the surveillance camera registry that we are partnering with residents on is going to be a powerful tool as well,” the mayor continued.
Police and city officials have also put together an Auto Theft Detail to focus on vehicle thefts and thefts from motor vehicles, as this has been an ongoing issue all over the state, and a Community Policing Unit to address quality of life issues within the city.
“Though temporary due to staffing concerns, these units were able to focus on specific issues and respond accordingly,” Bristol police Chief Brian Gould said. “We also put together a Community Watch Team. This program encourages residents and business owners that have external surveillance cameras, to register their cameras with the Bristol Police Department.”
There were no reported murders in 2018 in Bristol, as opposed to one homicide in 2017. Aggravated assaults last year dropped to 19 reported instances, down from 22 the previous year. Burglaries and larcenies also dropped, with 140 and 734 reports in 2018, respectively, with 146 and 756 in 2017. Motor vehicle thefts remained the same from 2017 to 2018, with 127 reported instances.
“I do believe that the hard work and dedication of our Bristol Police officers aid in the suppression and reduction of these types of crimes,” Gould said. “The unpredictability of human nature certainly is a factor when it comes to these types of crimes as well.”
Rapes and robberies were the only major crimes to increase in 2018. There were 19 reported instances of rape in 2018, up from 13 in 2017. Robberies rose to 29 reports last year, up from 25 in 2017.
Zoppo-Sassu said that “social trends like ‘me too’ and the reduction of stigma issues associated with sexual assault has contributed to increased reporting of these types of crime as well.”
“There is an awareness and victims are being supported and encouraged to come forward rather than be stigmatized,” Gould added. “Law enforcement is also receiving more training in the handling of these types of crimes and are being trained to be more sensitive and careful not to re-victimize those that come forward.”
Crime in Bristol hit a lower rate than it had been in at least 15 years in 2015, before dropping once again the following year. After rising slightly in 2017, it appears to have dropped again in 2018, as most major crimes fell. The crime rate is not yet available, as it is calculated by state police and released every September for each city and town in Connecticut.
“The goals for the Bristol Police Department in 2019 will be similar and we will continue to improve our operations,” Gould said. “One of my first priorities is to increase our staffing levels so we can make some of the aforementioned initiatives more permanent. I wish to personally thank our community. I value our partnership very much.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.