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Orange’s Crime Rate Drops
By Laura Fantarella - Orange Town News Correspondent
While the Orange Police Department is celebrating 2013 as the year with the town’s lowest UCR crime statistics on record, Chief Robert Gagne is still quick to point out the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The recently released numbers reflect Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR), the FBI’s system for tracking crime statistics that includes murder, rape, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault and larceny. “The decreased UCRs are a good thing for Orange, and I’m glad to see the numbers are down,” Gagne said. “Our numbers are driven mostly by Post Road property type crimes, but when you look at our UCRs over the past 35-40 years, the larcenies and burglaries have gone way down.”
But although the total UCR crime numbers are at an all-time low, Gagne emphasizes that the department is still busier than ever with medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, calls for service, and arrests that are not tracked under the UCR system like minor assaults, breach of peace, narcotics and driving under the influence. In 2013 there were 30,343 total calls for service and 5,443 total police reports written. “We are a very service-oriented police department and we are the legal first responders to all medical calls in town,” Gagne said. “We are averaging about four medicals a day and our officers are always busy with accidents and other calls for service.”
The town’s low crime stats are reflective of a steady trend on the national and state-wide level of declining crime rates. “There are many different factors that contribute to crime statistics going up or down,” Gagne said. Perhaps the most dramatic initiative that is affecting state and national crime statistics is the development of sophisticated computer technology that analyzes and pinpoints high crime areas and enables departments to put officers in those areas. This “hot-spot policing” promotes a pro-active, rather than reactive, approach to crime prevention. “Lower crime rates are not something unique that is only happening in Orange. State crime stats in general are down, particularly violent crime,” Gagne said. In 2013, there were just 25 commercial and/or residential burglaries as compared to the late seventies through early nineties when there were over 100 burglaries many years. In 2014, for the first time in twenty-two years a murder occurred in Orange, though it is considered an isolated incident. “We typically have a very low number of rapes or murders in our crime statistics,” Gagne said.
Gagne credits good policing and the department’s positive relationship with the community as contributing to keeping crime low. Maintaining a presence at town events like the annual Orange Country Fair, Firemen’s Carnival and July 4th celebrations, hosting a Citizens Police Academy and an awards program that recognizes civilians who report suspicious activity all work to contribute to the department’s community policing strategy. “We try to make ourselves very visible and accessible at various town events and we always welcome feedback from residents,” he said. “It certainly helps to have that cooperation from the public to keep that dialog flowing, and to develop trust and positive relationships in the community. Our officers do a fantastic job of building those strong relationships. Recently, we have also taken steps to engage the community through social media.” Gagne also credits a strong police presence and maintaining adequate numbers of officers and patrols as being a key component in the deterrence of crime.
Gagne cautions residents not to get complacent. “Just because our UCR numbers are down for the time being, we should still be vigilant,” he said. “The aspects of how crimes are being committed have grown more complex and intense over the years. The types of crimes and situations law enforcement is dealing with today – computer crime, active shooters, terrorism issues – even though we may not have had all of these things happen in Orange – we still need to be prepared for the possibility of them happening here.”
Al-Anon Meeting, Monday mornings, 10:00 - 11:30am, Holy Infant Church Hall, 450 Racebrook Road, Orange; a support group for relatives and friends of alcoholics. For more information, contact www.ct-al-anon.org.
Nicotine Anonymous Meetings, Mondays, 6:30 – 7:30pm, Trinity Lutheran Church, 21 Robert Treat Parkway, Milford, open to all, no dues or fees, only requirement is the desire to be free of nicotine. For more information, call Bridges, 203-878-6365.
Zumba Gold Classes At Congregation Or Shalom, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., Congregation Or Shalom, 205 Old Grassy Hill Road, simple and easy routines to follow, designed for people of all ages and no experience is needed. If interested, call Robin at 203.314.8176 or temple office at 203.799.2341.
Clean Energy Task Force of Orange, meets on the third Tuesday of every month at HPCC, 525 Orange Center Road, conference room, 8 o'clock. The public is invited.
Orange Arts & Culture Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month, 7:30pm, HPCC, 525 Orange Center Road, check chalk board for meeting room. The public is invited.
Orange Recycling Committee meets every 3rd Wednesday 7:30pm, HPCC conference room, 525 Orange Center Road, public is invited to attend. For more information, email Orangerecycles@gmail.com. Beginning August, meetings will be held every 3rd Tuesday at 7:00pm except for October which will be held on October 14, 2014.
Elm City Kennel Club General Meetings, third Wednesday of each month, except during July and August, 7:30pm, Paws’N Effect, 36 Corporate Ridge Drive (off Sherman Avenue), Hamden. For more information, contact New Member Coordinators Gary Wilson, at 203-996-2245 (email@example.com) or Maureen Anderson, at 203-430-5229 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Next meeting Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Refreshments will be served. Our April meeting will include a program on AKC Dog Shows 101.
Blood Pressure Clinic presented by Gentiva & Maplewood of Orange, 1st Thursday of every month, Maplewood of Orange, 245 Indian River Road, 1:30-2:30pm in the Community Room. No appointment necessary.
The Rotary Club Of Orange meets every Friday, 12:15pm at the Racebrook Country Club, 246 Derby Avenue; prospective new members may contact Diane Eger at 203-530-4526 or visit www.orangectrotary.org for information about the club.
Orange Historical Society Academy Antique & Gift Shop Museum, open Saturdays, 10:00am-3:00pm. For information call 203-795-3106.
New NAMI Support Group Meeting, every first Monday of the month, meetings begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. and end promptly at 7:30pm, BRIDGES, a community support system, 949 Bridgeport Avenue, Milford, conference room on the second floor, meeting dates are November 3, and December 1, 2014. They are free of charge and facilitator led.
The Morning Book Discussion Group, Thursday, November 6, 2014, 10:30am, the Ellen Aftamonow Woodmont Library, 16 Dixon Street, Milford. The book for November is, “The Rosie Project,” by Graeme Simsion. The book for December will be, “Care and Management of Lies,” by Jacqueline Winspear. The group meets the first Thursday monthly. All are welcome. For more information, call 203-875-5675.
Christmas Fest, Saturday, December 6, 2014, 9:00am-3:00pm, West Haven Congregational Church on the Green, Crafts, baked goods, lunch, Santa with photos from 10:30am until 1:00pm.