Crime

Police: Violent crime dropped 14 percent in Beloit in 2017

Chief credits officers, community with drop

BELOIT, Wis. - The Beloit Police Department is reflecting on 2017 positively after violent crime decreased by 14 percent.

Police Chief David Zibolski updated the community on Wednesday and shared 2017’s crime statistics and the department’s goals for 2018.

“Violent crime is down 14 percent in Beloit. Twenty-five fewer violent crimes in 2017 compared to 2016,” Zibolski said. “Twenty-five may not seem like a significant number, but that is a significant decrease in violent crime in our community. That is 25 fewer victims of armed robbery, aggravated assault, homicide or forcible rape.”

He said of those 156 violent crimes, about 70 percent were cleared. That means police arrested someone in 109 of the 156 crimes.

“That is an extremely excellent success rate, and when compared to cities of our size regionally … the average violent crime clearance rate for cities our size is just under 48 percent,” Zibolski said. “So we exceed the national average by 22 percent in terms of our violent crime clearance rates.”

The chief credited his officers and the community with helping keep crime low.

“We receive continual tips through our social media, which we continue to grow,” he said. “We have people that are coming to us and providing information and are willing to stand up with us because they recognize that we are competent in what we’re doing. They trust that we will appropriately, professionally handle the investigation and identify the perpetrators.”

Zibolski said shootings were down 29 percent, with two fewer shootings in 2017 than 2016. He said shots fired incidents were down 65 percent, from 62 incidents in 2016 to 22 incidents in 2017.

“Even when violent crime does occur in Beloit, our department takes a very strong sense of urgency about it from the patrol through our investigative arm,” Zibolski said.

He said there was also only one homicide in 2017, a shaken baby. In a previous interview with News 3, Zibolski said this is the first time in five years there was only one homicide in Beloit. He said it’s also the first time in 11 years no one died from gunfire.

While the police department uses statistics, Rev. Keith Stamper, a community activist, said he tracks the city’s crime in a different way.

“I noticed that we didn’t have a pray vigil last year,” he said. “I noticed that we didn’t have a senseless murder last year, but there’s things we still got to do. We can’t stop.”

He said he thinks the police department’s engagement with the community has really helped cut back on crime.
    
“That makes a difference when they show their face, the police department shows their face and they make an appearance,” Stamper said. “It gets kids more comfortable, more friendly and let them know they don’t have to fear them.”

The chief said he plans to have his officers continue to reach out to the community in 2018. He said the department is expanding its “Cone with a Cop” program with Culver's by bringing the event to neighborhood parks across Beloit. He said the department is also changing the officers’ schedule to 10-hour shifts so more officers can be on the street when they’re needed most.


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