CINCINNATI -- Violent crime, homicides and car thefts were all up in 2017 compared to 2016. But police said there are outside factors people should consider when interpreting the numbers, which include a drop in the number of shootings.
City officials released Cincinnati's crime statistics for 2017 Monday. There were 17,502 crimes reported in Cincinnati last year. That was an overall drop of 2.7 percent compared to 2016, part of a continued decline each year since 2011, according to numbers provided by the police department. Crime was down 10.8 percent compared to the five-year average.
However, violent crime was up by 1.3 percent due to an increase in aggravated assaults, rapes and homicides, and there were 1.5 percent more violent crimes in 2017 compared to the three-year average. There were 846 aggravated assaults in 2017, compared to 767 in 2016. There were 289 rapes last year, compared to 253 in 2016. And there were 71 homicides, compared to 62 in 2016. Four of the homicides were justified cases of self-defense, police said.
One category of violent crime was down for the year. Robberies dropped from 1,273 in 2016 to 1,179 in 2017. And violent crime was still below where it was in 2011-13, with 4.8 percent fewer violent crimes last year compared to the five-year average.
Police said that cities across the Midwest saw a spike in crime last year, but the violent crime increases in Cincinnati were marginal compared to some other cities.
"We've bucked the trend," Assistant Chief Paul Neudigate said. "We're going in the opposite direction. I don't want to be too overconfident, but I do think we have solid strategies."
Neudigate said police will continue to work in conjunction with the community in order to reduce the number of shootings and homicides.
"We want to be known as the safest city in the Midwest," he said.
Also, a significant portion of homicides were tied to domestic abuse. Police said they are initiating a new program where they bring advocates from the group Women Helping Women to domestic abuse calls. The advocates offer guidance to the victims.
Shootings drop despite bad start to year
Sixty-one of the city's 71 homicides for the year were gun homicides, according to police.
Overall, there were 410 shootings last year, 16 fewer than in 2016 and a 3.8 percent drop. That number was also 3.9 percent less than the three-year average and 1.5 percent less than the five-year average.
The mass shooting at Cameo Night Club inflated the numbers, according to police. A dispute escalated into multiple people firing shots inside the night club March 26. One person was killed and 16 were injured. Without that incident, the number of shootings victims for the year would have been down 7.7 percent from 2016, down 7.9 percent compared to the three-year average and down 5.6 percent compared to the five-year average.
Police said there was a dramatic decrease in shootings over the course of the year. Due to the mild winter last year, there was a large increase in shootings early in the year, especially in Avondale. Their numbers were up 88 percent in the first few months of 2017, which police said made the 3.8 percent drop even more impressive.
Police said new technology like the ShotSpotter system has helped reduce the number of shooting victims. ShotSpotter uses a network of microphones to identify the sound of gunshots and alert authorities where the sounds came from.
ShotSpotter has allowed police to go from responding to an estimated 15 percent of shots fired in Avondale to 100 percent, police said.
"There's no doubt that out bad guys now know that ShotSpotter is out there," Neudigate said.
Rape victims more empowered
While the number of reported rapes was up, the number of violent or random rapes has remained about the same, according to Assistant Chief Michael John.
The number of victims reporting being raped by their significant others has increased significantly, according to John. He said police aren't sure if there are actually more of those rapes happening than before, but they believe victims feel more empowered to report them.
Lock your car, police warn
While property crimes continued on a downward trend last year, police said the biggest spike they saw was in car thefts, which they said could be prevented if people didn't leave their cars unlocked and running. The number of auto thefts increased from 1,197 in 2016 to 1,435 in 2017. That number was higher than any point in the last six years.
The numbers of thefts from autos and personal/other thefts last year remained comparable to 2016. But Cincinnati saw a notable decrease in the number of burglaries, down from 3,904 in 2016 to 3,208 last year. And that number has continued to drop each year since 2012, when there were 5,552 reported burglaries.
Where crimes happen
Most violent crimes -- 33.1 percent of them -- and property crimes -- 31.7 percent -- happened in Police District 3, which includes East Price Hill, West Price Hill, Lower Price Hill, East Westwood, English Woods, Millvale, North Fairmount, South Fairmount, Riverside, Sayler Park, Sedamsville, South Cumminsville, Roll Hill and Westwood.
District 4 had the second-most violent crimes, with 27.1 percent of them. District 5 had 15.0 percent, District 1 had 11.9 percent, District 2 had 9.3 percent and the Central Business District had 3.5 percent.
However, most shootings occurred in District 4, 29.3 percent. District 4 includes Mount Auburn, Corryville, Walnut Hills, Avondale, North Avondale, Paddock Hills, Bond Hill, Roselawn, Carthage, and Hartwell.
District 3 had 22.7 percent of shootings. District 5 had 19.3 percent, District 1 had 16.6 percent, District 2 had 10.5 percent and the Central Business District had 1.7 percent.
Even with the increased police response and ShotSpotter focuse in Avondale, that neighborhood had the most shooting victims: 36. Over-the-Rhine was close behind with 35. However, both neighborhoods saw a decrease from 2016 and from their five-year average.
The most dramatic increase -- among neighborhoods with the most shootings -- was in Westwood, where there were 41 shooting victims in 2016. Westwood had only 20 shooting victims last year.
District 4 had 18.9 percent of property crimes. District 5 had 17.4 percent, District 2 had 15.8 percent, District 1 had 10.0 percent and the Central Business District had 6.1 percent.
Check out the Cincinnati Police Department's full presentation below: