FBI: Crime down across New England – including Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Crime was down slightly across the majority of New England’s largest cities – including Providence – in 2013, according to a WPRI.com review of data released this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The new data shows Providence reported 1,115 violent crimes in 2013, down 18 from the previous year. The city saw 7,974 property crimes for the year, a decrease of three. Of the cities similar in size to Providence, only Springfield saw an increase in violent crime.

The FBI defines violent crimes as homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults and property crimes as burglaries, larcenies, motor vehicle thefts and arson cases.

Violent Crimes Chart - 13

Providence’s dip in crime was less than the country as a whole, which saw a 4.4% drop in estimated violent crimes and a 4.1% reduction in property crimes. At 21%, Bridgeport saw that largest drop in violent crime among similar-sized New England cities. New Haven, whose police chief is former Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman, saw a 13% drop in violent crime.

Crime in Providence was a major issue in the city’s mayor’s race this year, with Democrat Jorge Elorza criticizing independent candidate and former Mayor Buddy Cianci for allowing crime to increase during his final years in office. Elorza won the race.

Overall Cianci presided over a 35% reduction in violent crime between 1990 and 2002, 13 percentage points better than the national average. Property crimes in Providence fell 25% during the same period, compared with an 18% drop nationally.

Property Crime Chart

Although crime statistics for 2014 won’t be released until next year, violent crime was down 21% compared with the same point in 2013 as of Nov. 2, according to data provided by the Providence Police Department. Property crimes were down 16%.

So why is crime down? No one really knows. Experts have attributed the national drop to everything from policing strategies to the decline of crack cocaine use to the economy, but nothing quite adds up.

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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