MANSFIELD, Ohio — Mansfield police reported a 15-percent decrease in crime from 2014 to 2015, according to statistics released to the Richland Source on Friday.
“We’re excited for what this means for the city of Mansfield,” said Ken Coontz, Mansfield Chief of Police. “To me, this is what progress looks like. When the officers are able to collaborate with the community, it’s these types of results that you can get.”
Coontz said the police department expects to see anywhere from one to three percent decreases in overall crimes — if they’re fortunate enough to see a reduction at all, he said.
Coontz attributed arrests in a rash of arsons and an auto theft ring for impacting the statistics.
In 2014, the department responded to 29 arsons, compared to 19 in 2015, a 34-percent decrease. Auto thefts reached 162 in 2014 but only 92 in 2015, a 43-percent decrease.
As depicted in the graph below, Mansfield experienced two spikes in violence in years 2012 and 2014, but 2015 represented somewhat of an anomaly.
“I don’t know the last time we would have hit an overall 15-percent decrease in crime,” assistant chief Kieth Porch said.
Since 2010, MPD has responded to 19,382 Part I Offenses, bringing the average to 3,230 reports between 2010 and 2015.
These crimes are categorized by the FBI Uniform Crime Report Program and represent both violent crimes — homicide, rape, robbery and assault — and property crimes — arson, burglary, larceny and auto theft.
Coontz and Porch attribute the decrease in overall crime to community collaboration and a hardworking police force, despite not having a full force.
“We’re authorized for 102 officers,” Porch noted. MPD currently operates with 81 certified police officers and recently hired four additional probationary officers. The police department is budgeted for 89 officers thanks to the renewal of the PRIDE tax in May 2014.
The smaller police force has prompted the genesis of a community relationship, Porch said. Coontz agreed, praising those who have decided to work with MPD to keep the city safe.
“We are very proud of our community relationships the Mansfield Police Department has,” Coontz said.
He referenced working relationships with other local law enforcement agencies, citizens and schools principals — even local clergyman, like Mount Calvary Baptist Church Rev. Derek Williams.
Williams has plans to take the fight against violence and the abuse of illicit drugs in Mansfield one step further. In April 2015, Williams co-founded the Mend Mansfield Coalition and coordinated events throughout the city.
He said he, along with other local clergyman and city officials plan to meet someday next week to create a blueprint of a “comprehensive plan” to curb Mansfield’s violence, specifically gun violence.
“It saddens me that two teenagers were gunned down a couple weeks ago who were coming home from a corner store,” Williams said, referring to a Jan. 9 incident in which two juveniles were shot near the intersection of Bowman and Sixth Streets.
The 2015 crime statistics are more than just numbers to the chief.
“I mean if you’re looking for a community to move into, look for one where the law enforcement agency and the community work together, and I’m telling you, we do that very well here in the city of Mansfield,” Coontz said.
The good news for the department did not stop short at overall crime reduction; Assistant Chief Keith Porch said drug seizures are up, too.
“We exceeded goals with heroin removals — we’re extremely proud of that. Our goal is reduce (heroin's) availability, and we did,” Porch said.
According to police records, during 2015’s first three quarters, the department confiscated 2,609 grams of heroin from the streets. The goal was to remove 1,068 grams.
METRICH, the county’s 10-county drug enforcement task force, served 563 search warrants in 2015.