The city of Hartford had a nearly 55 percent decrease in murders last year from the year before. But the city also saw a two percent increase in the number of non-fatal shootings in 2016 -- and that worries Police Chief James Rovella.
Last year’s tally -- 120 non-fatal shooting victims -- was the highest it’s been at least since 2012.
“Our non-fatal incidents, which is important, are up 2.6 percent...from a bad year last year,” Rovella said at a press conference last week. “And that causes us great concern.”
The department recently released its year-end crime data. In 2015, there were 31 homicides; last year there were only 14. On average, the city saw about 22 homicides annually over the past five years.
The city also presented numbers showing that its officers are changing the way in which they police -- conducting fewer traffic stops, deploying Tasers less frequently, using reported force less often, and generating fewer citizen complaints.
But if Hartford’s best news was that fewer people died last year from gun violence than the year before, the worst news is that far more died from heroin and related drug overdoses. Deputy Chief Brian Foley said five have already died so far this year.
“If bullets were killing these people as opposed to bags of heroin, it would be sheer panic across the state,” Foley said.
At least 75 people died from a drug overdose last year -- twice the number from the year before.
Rovella released the statistics on the same day the city announced a new partnership with federal prosecutors to target violence and illegal gun possession in the city.