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Major crime numbers down in Wilmington last year

Mike Phillips -WDEL

Homicides down. Shootings down. Robberies down.

Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy, who is in his final week on the job after nearly six years, spoke with WDEL News on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, about the city's 2022 Crime Report, which was released the day before.

"I'm going to be handing these keys over to my successor when Mayor Purzycki makes that announcement," said Tracy. "Better to hand when things are going well than when there's problems."

The number of murders dropped from 40 in 2021 to 17 in 2022, a 58% decline. Shootings dropped 30%.

"Although we're down from last year in murders and shootings, we're down compared to years past historically," said Tracy. "You're talking about the lowest murders in fifteen years. Shootings, it's the second lowest in 17 years."

The last time the number of shootings was this low was the pre-pandemic year of 2018, and a couple of years into Tracy's tenure.

He said the COVID pandemic disrupted progress that had been made in the early years of his administration.

"It showed it's not just about policing that helps bring violence down," said Tracy, "it's a collective effort from communities, from the elected officials, from the criminal justice system, from healthcare to social service programs, to the education part.

"You're talking about a methodology that's really good. The community's come together. We've done a lot of things with community engagement and strategies," said Tracy. "We as a city are doing a heckuva lot better compared to cities across the nation and it's because of the good work, and collectively, what everyone's doing."

Tracy thanked the men and women of the police department and Mayor Purzycki for their efforts and support.

One section of the statistics does have Tracy concerned - the number of juveniles involved in violent crimes.

"From where we were in 2018 there's almost over a 200% increase in the amount of juveniles arrested with guns, and that's very alarming," said Tracy.

He believes it will take a holistic approach to get that number down.

"These kids have trauma," said Tracy. "They've grown up with some issues in life and how do we get to them earlier and identify them to make sure we can help them so they're not in the place they are now."

Tracy is leaving Wilmington to take over the top cop job in St. Louis.

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