PORTAGE — Crime in Portage has gone down by more than 8% over the past year, Police Chief Troy Williams announced Monday, the lowest crime has been in 33 years.
Increased community involvement is a major contributor to the decrease, the chief added.
“I cannot emphasize enough the effect of a reduction of crime has a community,” he said. “We're improving our roads, we're building new neighborhoods, we're seeing new businesses.”
“We are very happy with this decrease in 8.6% over the last year,” said Mayor John Cannon. “Population grows and we have more development, and our crime continues to go down.”
Out of the reported crimes, only instances of burglary and aggravated assault increased. The number of burglaries went from 22 to 29 and aggravated assault increased from 24 to 28, according to data provided by Williams.
Williams cited increased community engagement as one of the major factors in lowering Class 1 offenses, which include a variety of thefts and violent crime.
“We encourage more people to share information with their neighbors,” he said. “Just the added presence of multiple eyes watching what's going on and reporting to us helps.”
Apps like Nextdoor and others that provide footage from people's home surveillance cameras, such as Ring, are also a big help, Williams said.
"They're posting information when they see something," he said. "I think our Facebook followers have reached over 22,000 now, so we're able to reach out and share that information. I think we've had a 98% success rate in getting someone identified."
Williams also announced two community events to prepare families for the back to school season.
The department will host a back-to-school safety fair from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 7. Topics covered will include vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes, drug paraphernalia, cyberbullying and distracted driving. The event is geared toward middle and high school students and their parents.
Two weeks later, from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 21, the department will conduct active shooter training geared toward school employees. It's open to school staff from any school district, but priority seating will be reserved for Portage Township School personnel. Seating will be capped at 75 people, and if interest is strong enough, a second session will be scheduled.