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Holyoke remained homicide-free in 2012

Date: 1/11/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — It's been an entire calendar year in Holyoke without a homicide and last week Police Chief James Neiswanger and Mayor Alex Morse thanked the men and women of the Holyoke Police Department as well as state and federal law enforcement partners for their help in achieving this goal.

Neiswanger, though, also thanked the public. "We all know the police department can't do it alone."

Morse said 2012 was the first year in the past 25 years of maintaining crime statistics that Holyoke has been without a homicide. In 2011, there were four deaths.

The Paper City has been the subject of an "unfair negative perception" about safety, Morse said.

"We need to send the message that our city is safe," he added.

Morse explained that bolstering community policing, expanding bicycle patrols which allow for greater interaction with people and the mobile community-policing unit that can be moved to crime "hot spots" have all attributed to greater public safety.

Neiswanger said that adding officers to address code enforcement issues and community relations as well as using crime statistics to re-deploy police officers to parts of the city where they are most needed are parts of the strategy he is using.

He noted the department has acquired Tasers for the greater safety of the officers and has one canine officer with one dog in training and two more coming shortly.

Neiswanger said that other crime statistics for 2012 are "about average" compared with 2011. He noted there is a drop in homicides across the nation.

Part of the solution to prevent crime by having more programs for at-risk youth before they are involved in a criminal act, he said.

"A small percentage of people commit a large percent of crime," he said.

Morse said, "Public safety and quality of life issues have been a top priority of mine over the last year. To go an entire year without a homicide, the first year in over 25 years, is a monumental achievement that I am very proud of. I commend Chief Neiswanger and all the men and women at the Holyoke Police Department for keeping Holyoke safe. While we still have more work to do, we are no doubt headed in the right direction. I am fully aware that our ability to attract new residents and new businesses, particularly in the downtown, depends on our ability to ensure the public's safety. This is a transformative time in the city of Holyoke, and I call on all Holyoke residents to join us in our efforts to keep moving Holyoke forward."