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24 Jan 2018

Metro credits dip in violent crime in Las Vegas to new tactics

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Violent crime in the United States in 2017 — at least through the first half of the year — was on a slight downward trend compared with the previous year, according to partial statistics released Wednesday by the FBI.

The preliminary FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that in the first six months of 2017, violent crime in the U.S. was down 0.8 percent and property crime was down about 3 percent.

In Las Vegas, the trend was reflected in the end-of-year statistics tallied by Metro Police and released in a report last week.

By the end of 2017, Las Vegas had seen a 0.9 overall dip in violent crime, the Metro report shows. That was roughly a 3 percent decrease from an upward trend Las Vegas had experienced in the beginning of the year.

A steady decrease commenced in February, which coincided with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo’s declaring violent crime the agency’s top priority in his State of Metro speech. The downward trend continued through December, police said.

Excluding the 58 victims killed Oct. 1, Metro investigated 141 murders in 2017, which was a decrease of about 10 percent compared with 2016, the agency said.

Responding to online criticism about not including the mass-shooting victims in the report, Metro responded with a tweet soon after the report was made public: “To elaborate, this information is not meant to discount the awful events of 1 October. These are annual statistics provided for comparative purposes.”

Like in the annual mid-year report, Metro had seen about a 3 percent drop in property crimes by Dec. 31.

Rapes, shootings and stabbings were up in 2017, while robberies, burglaries and vehicle thefts were down, according to police.

Out of the 168 homicides investigated by Metro in 2016, 157 of them were classified as murders. The 141 murders tallied in 2017 translates into a 10.2 percent drop.

Besides October, December was a particularly deadly month, with homicide detectives being dispatched to 27 murders, accrued in single, double and triple slayings. May, which had the next highest number, saw 13 murders.

In these investigations, the agency touts its homicide unit’s clearance rate of about 82 percent, which is “much higher than many other jurisdictions.”

Their tactics last year included “a more of a team approach,” said Lt. Dan McGrath in a news release, which accompanied the release. “We have a handful of homicide detectives who are using all of the resources of our agency at their disposal to solve cases,” such as Metro’s central intelligence unit.

“Detectives are going to places where people convene, putting their ear to the ground, getting together with Community Oriented Police officers who have established relationships with neighbors,” homicide unit Capt. Robert Plummer said in the same release.

Homicide detectives are now part of daily briefings with patrol officers.

“We began last year committed to reducing violent crime and we were able to deliver that promise. We still have more ground to cover, but we’re headed in the right direction,” Sheriff Lombardo said in the release.

Police projected crime will further decrease due to officer funding, advances in technology, and forensic science.

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