Martinsburg Crime Down as New Police Strategies Take Hold

  • Martinsburg Crime Down as New Police Strategies Take Hold

    Martinsburg Crime Down as New Police Strategies Take Hold

    The Martinsburg Police Department has announced significant decreases in major crime for the first eight months of 2016.

    “In 2016, MPD has been on a mission to knock down crime and improve safety in every neighborhood, and now we’re really seeing our efforts pay off. The drop in crime is major. Robberies and burglaries are way, way down.” stated Chief Maury Richards.

    During the first eight months of 2016 Martinsburg has seen a dramatic reduction in robberies and burglaries as compared to the same time period in 2015. During the period January 1 to September 1, 2016 there have been 12 total robberies in Martinsburg compared to 23 during the same time period in 2015—a reduction of 48%. A closer inspection of these totals shows that armed robberies dropped from 5 to 3 for a 40% decrease and strong arm robberies (without a weapon) declined from 18 to 9 for a 50% reduction. Reported burglaries have also plummeted. The first eight months of 2016 have seen a total of 127 burglaries, down from 190 compared to the first eight months of 2015—a reduction of 33%.

    “Back in January when we published our 2015 Annual Report and assessed last year’s crime numbers, two trends really concerned us—we saw that both robberies and burglaries were going up. This was simply unacceptable to the Department and the community so we committed ourselves as a team to turn it around,” Richards stated.

    Captain Kevin Miller observed that initiatives on all levels of the Department have made a difference. “Our Shift Commanders; Lieutenants Scott Funkhouser, Mike Usack, and Les Witt developed focused strategies on each of their Shifts, utilizing “hot spot” mapping to see where burglaries were occurring and targeting those areas,” said Miller. “Our quality of reporting and investigations got better, with officers really digging to get more evidence and information. In-depth follow-ups of robberies and burglaries have become a routine, and information is being shared and passed on from shift to shift and with our Detectives. All of this has resulted in a lot of major arrests of very dangerous criminal offenders. It’s been a total team effort.” Captain Miller added.

    Improved communication and a better relationship with community residents have been critical to the Department’s success. “I couldn’t be more proud of what our guys and gals are accomplishing. When they respond to a robbery or a burglary, our officers aren’t satisfied with ‘just taking a report’ and going on their way—they’re going the extra mile getting to the bottom of the crime and catching the bad guy,” observed Deputy Chief George Swartwood. Community members are now cooperating more with police in helping solve crimes, according to Swartwood. “We’re going old-school. When police officers get out of their cruisers, walk the beat, and really talk to people—we build trust and residents are more willing to share information with us to help solve crimes. This leads to quality arrests, crime reduction, and safer neighborhoods,” the Deputy Chief concluded.

    Chief Richards attributes the city’s significant crime reduction to the hard work and dedication of the entire Department and a comprehensive community policing strategy that has combined direct police engagement with the community, teamwork, focused enforcement, improved training, applied technology, and new police-community partnerships. “Community policing is tough on crime and it’s working in Martinsburg. We’re are coming together, reducing crime, and continuing to build an MPD culture and expectation of excellence. We’re making our Department better and our neighborhoods safer every day,” stated the Martinsburg Chief.