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April 19, 2014

Marblehead chief charts drop in crime

MARBLEHEAD — Police chief Robert Picariello has highlighted an overall drop in crime from 2012 to 2013 in his annual report to the town.

The decrease was substantial in the category of crimes against persons, down 23 percent for incidents like rape, assaults and threats. Crimes against property, including breaking and entering and vandalism, fell by 31 percent. Crimes against society, which encompasses drugs, pornography and weapons charges, was reduced the most, by 34 percent.

“The most encouraging statistic is a 30-percent reduction in drug violations,” according to the report, although more cautious language indicates the need to keep watch and determine “if the reduction is a one-time drop.”

Picariello said statistics can be misleading and that in Marblehead, where crime is not high to begin with, a small number of incidents can bring noticeable change.

But the reductions are real, and they come as the department has worked closely with surrounding police, the schools and with important constituents like the Council on Aging to reduce the numbers.

“We’re proud of it,” Picariello said.

The reduction in drug crimes comes as Gov. Deval Patrick has been warning of dangerous increases in heroin addiction elsewhere in the state. The key for Marblehead on dealing with drugs, says the chief, is understanding it is not a crime limited by town boundaries. “We work with Salem and other cities and towns,” he said.

Efforts in the schools also include training for any worst-case scenarios of school violence. “We all hope never to use any of the plans or training, but it would be completely irresponsible of us to not have plan in place,” he reported.

It’s difficult to determine if the Marblehead numbers are part of an overall drop in crime, as various departments are only beginning to release figures. Peabody, for example, is also reporting a drop.

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