PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence Police Department is seeing an increase in crime this year in comparison with statistics from this time last year – but police say the numbers still don’t tell the whole story.
Eyewitness News crunched the numbers in the weekly crime reports after a man was shot in his store Friday during an attempted armed robbery. According to the statistics, violent crimes like homicides and shootings are up in Providence this year.
As of October 18 of this year, Providence Police has handled 857 violent crime cases. At the same time last year, there were 769 violent crimes. It’s an overall increase of 11 percent. Those violent crimes include homicides, sex offenses, armed robberies, and aggravated assaults, including those using firearms.
Deputy Chief Thomas Oates said the comparison is a tough one, because 2014 was a record low year for crime.
“Last year was the lowest crime numbers we’ve had in 20 years. We’d like the goal to be zero, but we know that’s not realistic,” he said.
Oates also said the number of people actually shot in the city is down this year – with 71 people compared to 77 at this time last year.
Police follow these trends and assign resources accordingly, according to Oates.
“Crimes with guns are a top priority in the police department,” he said. “Certain areas are hot spots for groups or gangs who carry firearms, they are on our focus and we’re constantly looking at them.”
The Department hopes the increase in sexual assault arrests is due to more victims reporting the crimes.
Commander Oates also said it’s important to remember that behind each statistic – is a person.
“It’s not just about numbers, it’s about people,” he said.
Annie Shalvey contributed to this report.