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Children are victims of 1 in 3 Manchester sexual assaults, according to police stats

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 07. 2018 11:07PM
This image is from a report about crime released by the Manchester Police on Wednesday. (COURTESY)

MANCHESTER — More than one out of three rapes last year involved a child, Manchester police said Wednesday.

Of the two Manchester homicide victims in 2017, one was a child.

And more than half — 53 percent — of all serious assaults involved either child abuse, domestic violence or juvenile-on-juvenile crime.

Those are some of the grim statistics included in an otherwise optimistic report about crime that Manchester police brass released on Wednesday. The report showed that serious crimes as defined by the FBI were down 3 percent last year, including a 16 percent drop in robbery.

Police Chief Nick Willard said child rape has become the largest driver of violent crime in the city.

“Frankly it’s a horrific statistic. These are children,” Willard said. He said police have known about such crimes for years, but 2017 was the first time they pinpointed how often children are victims of crimes such as rape (35 of 99 cases) and aggravated assault.

“These are closed-door crimes,” said Lt. Nicole Ledoux, who heads up the juvenile crime unit for Manchester police. Such crimes, she said, can’t be targeted with predictive computer analytics and hot-spot patrols, two tactics that police use to address crimes such as robbery and burglary.

In 2017, violent crime was down 4 percent, and property crime was down 3 percent. The categories are based on FBI crime-reporting criteria that Manchester police use every year to compile and disseminate reports of crime in the city. Overall, 3,713 serious crimes — which the FBI labels as Part 1 crimes — were logged in 2017.

Willard said he hopes to get that number below 3,000 this year.

Willard acknowledged that the FBI criteria does not include a stand-alone category for gun-related crimes, which he said were probably down in 2017. Nor does the FBI include drug-related crimes such as drug sales and possession. Willard said he thinks total drug-related crimes in the city are up.

Some other numbers:

• The Special Enforcement Division seized nearly 14,900 grams of heroin and heroin-like drugs such as fentanyl. The number includes the work of only one unit of the police department and not other divisions such as patrol or juvenile.

• The Special Enforcement Division made 522 drug arrests, up from 409 the previous year. Willard said Manchester police have moved away from the Granite Hammer approach to drug enforcement, which involved roundups of a dozen people once every month or so.

“Our tactic this time is to arrest two or three or four subjects every night. We want to impact it every single night. The numbers are pretty extraordinary, but you’re not seeing it in the newspaper,” he said. Once police identify a drug house, Willard said, he wants an arrest made within two weeks.

• Confiscations of mari­juana and methamphet­amine were down sub­­­stantially. Special Enforcement confiscated 209 ounces of marijuana last year, less than one-fifth of the amount (1,124 ounces) seized in 2016.

• At 499, the number of burglaries was up 8 percent. Willard said burglaries had been trending downward until the last few months of the year, when a ring of four burglars struck the North End area of the city. An investigation into the rings is continuing, and Willard said he plans to make an announcement soon.

• The 198 auto thefts were up 31 percent from 2016. Willard attributed the increase to drug users seeking transportation to Lawrence, Mass., to purchase drugs.

• Robberies were down 16 percent. He said convenience store owners approached him mid-year to complain about robberies, and he had the analytics team identify hot spots, where police concentrated patrols.

• Willard said uniformed police noticed the presence of out-of-state gang members moving into Manchester to take advantage of the drug trade. Gang members come from Boston, Atlanta and New York. They get into turf battles with local gangs and serve as role models for some youth, he said.

Willard said he sent his officers to the Bronx to train with New York police on how to address gangs.

The 38 reports of guns being fired into the air are often the result of gang rivalries, he said.

“We started realizing the drug crisis is bringing people into the city to capitalize on what they’re seeing in the media and reported nationally that Manchester has a drug issue,” Willard said. “That means there’s money to be made here if you sell drugs.”

The presentation can be viewed below:

Crime, law and justice Public Safety Manchester

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