DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Dayton Police Department set three goals at the beginning of the year: reduce gun violence, put a dent in the growing opiate overdose rate and decrease the number of car crashes in the city.
Chief Richard Biehl says his department has made progress, however there is still a lot of work to do.
From January to June of 2017 the city saw an increase in violent crimes involving a firearm compared to those same months in 2016.
In the first six months of the year, there were 227 violent crimes involving a firearm compared to 209 in the first six months of 2016. However, there was a 14 percent decrease in the number of those that resulted in injuries. In the first six months of 2017, 31 people were hurt in those incidents compared to 43 in 2016.
Biehl says he wishes all the numbers were down, but is thankful less people are being hurt. The department is strategizing ways to keep the community safe, but Biehl says his team is very focused this year on the city’s crime rate.
“There are some things we’re going to be doing differently as it relates to place-based strategies, but we are not prepared to talk about that at this time,” said Biehl.
He did say they plan to look into surrounding areas of ‘hot spots’ for crime and not just target specific neighborhoods, but outlying suburbs as well.
One of the biggest issues plaguing not only Dayton, but the entire Miami Valley is the alarming number of opiate overdoses. Montgomery County is on track to nearly triple the number of overdose deaths this year compared to 2016.
In all of 2016, Dayton first responders were called out to more than 1,200 overdoses. Six months into 2017 and the city is already close to that number.
“It’s disheartening. The sheer number of deaths is staggering to think you could have this many people dying on a daily, weekly basis,” said Biehl.
2 NEWS reporter Maytal Levi asked Biehl, “Do you think the dayton police department is doing everything it can to curb those numbers?”. He responded, “I think we have been the leader in this quite honestly. We took on Narcan in 2014, well before fentantyl and other analogs. It was a fortuitous because we would have more people dead if we did not.”
The city has also seen a growing number of car crashes, but a decrease in fatalities.
Five people were killed in crashes January – June of this year compared to 16 last year during those same months. However, there have been more crashes in general, 219 more in comparison.
Blehl says he won’t be satisfied until he only has good news to share. He believes the department’s three priorities will remain the same for 2018.