FBI: 2014 was Providence’s safest year in decades

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Crime in Rhode Island’s capital city dropped to its lowest point in at least 29 years in 2014, according to a WPRI.com review of data released this week by the FBI.

All told, Providence reported 927 violent crimes and 6,827 property crimes last year, which amounted to a 15% decline in overall crime compared with 2013. Of six New England cities similar in size to Providence, only Worcester saw an increase in total violent crimes last year. Total property crimes ticked up in the Connecticut cities of Hartford and Stamford.

Across the country, violent crime was down 0.2% and property crime dipped 4.3%, according to the report. That’s the 12th consecutive year crime dropped nationally.

The FBI defines violent crimes as homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, and defines property crimes as burglaries, larcenies, motor vehicle thefts and arson cases. Public safety departments across the country submit their annual crime statistics to the agency, which then audits the figures and releases the totals as part of its annual “Crime in the United States” report.

The FBI began collecting municipal crime data in 1985. Since that point, Providence has only had three other years where there were fewer than 1,000 violent crimes reported. In 2006, there were 972 violent crimes; a year later, there were 978. In 2011, the city reported just 817 violent crimes, but that was based on only nine months of data.

Here’s a look at how Providence’s violent crime total compared to the Connecticut cities of Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Stamford and Springfield and Worcester in Massachusetts. (Note: These are six of the seven largest cities in New England. Boston, whose population is at least three times larger than any other city in the region, is not included.)

FBI Crime Stats 93-14

It’s worth noting that the statistics submitted by thousands of municipalities to the FBI aren’t always the same as the numbers the agency reports out, in part because of its audit and in part because of the occasional human error. For example, the FBI report states there were 18 homicides in Providence last year; there were actually 20.

Here’s a look at how the same seven New England cities fared on property crimes.

TOTAL Property crimes New England

While crime statistics for 2015 won’t be released until next year, violent crime in Providence was up 12% compared with the same point in 2014 as of Sept. 27, according to weekly data published by the police department. Property crimes were down 12%.

In August, The New York Times reported that homicides spiked in some of the country’s largest cities this year, including Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago and New York. In Providence, 13 people have been killed this year, one fewer than at the same point last year.

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

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