Police in Brick Township are busier than ever, with calls for service set to reach a record high in 2014. But despite the workload, which includes everything from assaults, to medical calls, to car accidents, crime is trending down in several key categories and property crimes are at their lowest level in several years.
Speaking in percentages, the rates of both violent and property crimes are essentially flat, though on a slow-but-steady downward trend since 2010. The stable crime rate is largely a product of a stable police department, which has kept staffing levels at about 125 officers consistently. Those officers, however, are responding to more calls for service than ever before, with 2014 poised to become the busiest year in department history with approximately 79,000 calls for service. That’s up from 64,994 in 2010 and 74,065 in 2012.
All the while, the number of crimes reported in the FBI’s Uniform Crime report has remained relatively steady, and has decreased in a number of areas of most concern to residents, especially as the fear of property crimes such as burglaries and thefts have received extra attention as Ocean County battles a heroin crisis.
The FBI released its most recent Brick crime statistics – for 2013 – last month. Here they are:
|Violent Crime||Number of Cases||Property Crime||Number of Cases|
Here’s the comparison: violent crime, at 89 incidents in 2013, was down from a high of 124 in 2010, though a few incidents higher than the 81 recorded in 2012. Property crime fell to its lowest level in several years, from a high of 1,382 in 2009. Each year since then, property crime has dropped.
For a town with more than 75,000 residents and 33,000 households, a drop in crime at the levels seen since 2010 really translates into a crime rate that is flat, said Brick Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist.
“We’ve had some minor peaks and vallies over the last ten years or so, but we’ve remained relatively stable,” he said.
Ironically, Brick’s relatively low crime rate for a city its size can lead to percentage spikes if any variable from a previous year changes. For instance, one year there was a rash of bank robberies in Ocean and Monmouth counties, with several banks in Brick having been targeted. That led to a spike in what is considered violent crime incidents. By the same token, a single individual addicted to drugs who burglarizes 3o homes in their own neighborhood can lead to a spike in the property crime numbers.
Bergquist said drug-related arrests are up in recent years, and investigations have led to a number of burglary suspects being charged with crimes.
Burglaries hit a several-year low in 2013, the numbers show, down to 252 from a high of 333 in 2009. Motor vehicle thefts, which spiked to 42 in 2009, were down to 20 in 2013 (they dropped to 16 in 2012). Bergquist said incidents that are not tracked by the FBI, such as criminal mischief incidents, minor thefts and simple assaults, likewise remained steady. The number of domestic violence calls have also remained essentially flat, the chief said.
As for the marked increase in calls for service, Bergquist said that generally speaking, no particular type of call spiked more than others to create such a dramatic increase to the tune of 14,000 calls. One area of calls that did rise was the number of motor vehicle accidents in a five-year period, likely a product of the overall growth of Ocean County, which has placed more motorists on Brick’s heavily-traveled roads in recent years. There have also been more mental health calls since Superstorm Sandy struck in 2012.
“Any change within the community can have an effect” on the number of calls to which police must respond, said Bergquist.
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Links to check out:
For more information on crime numbers, interested residents can visit the FBI’s website for a full listing of crime numbers by year and by town for comparison purposes.[/box]