N.S. Police: Crime up in 2018

N.S. Police: Crime up in 2018

Retail expansion, opioid crisis cited as factors

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Last year brought increases in a number of crimes around town, including breaking and entering, shoplifting, larceny from a motor vehicle and drug violations, according to data released by the North Smithfield Police Department last week.

Arrests increased 17.6 percent overall, from 770 in 2017 to 906 in 2018, while the number of citations issued during traffic stops decreased from 3,805 to 3,689. Crimes against persons, a category including kidnapping, rape, assault, statutory rape and intimidation, increased by 26 percent, while crimes against property, such as larceny, fraud, vandalism, embezzlement and breaking and entering, increased by 30 percent.

While the number of straight larceny crimes – those not originating from a home, vehicle or store – were down 30 percent, other types of theft saw increases, including a 19 percent increase in shoplifting, a 43 percent increase in motor vehicle theft, a 179 percent increase in larceny from a motor vehicle and a 21 percent increase in larceny from a building.

According to Capt. Stephen Riccitelli, those crimes tend to originate from the town’s retail areas and have generally increased along with the expansion of Dowling Village.

“It fluctuates. I think there are a number of factors that can contribute to it,” he said. “Some of them are crimes of opportunity. We’re bordered by seven other jurisdictions. You have the commercial expansion in town, which is bringing more people into North Smithfield.”

The number of traffic citations issued, he said, depends on the availability of officers to patrol for motor vehicle violations. Arrests for motor vehicle violations tend to go down as the number of calls to respond to crimes and other incidents increases, and the number of citations issued tend to fluctuate with staffing levels.

“We were down three officers for a period of time and we’re just finally starting to get back up to full complement, so I’m sure that in calendar year 2019 you’re going to see all of those numbers that we put out there, I’m sure you’re going to see an increase in all of those numbers,” he said.

Drug and narcotics violations increased 30 percent from 2017 to 2018. Of particular concern last year was the spread of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Exposure to the drug, said Riccitelli, has become a major issue for officers, as even minor skin contact or inhalation during drug arrests can lead to hospitalization.

“That’s become a real officer safety concern as well,” he said. “We have to take special precautions, and we’ve had to change our policies and procedures over fentanyl exposure. We have had officers be exposed to fentanyl and have to be transferred to the hospital, and that was during the booking process.”

All officers, he said, carry Narcan – a brand name of the overdose reversal medication naloxone – in their vehicles, and the department has begun stocking it in the booking area in the event of officer exposure. While the department previously purchased the medication at a cost, he said, local hospitals have begun replacing empty Narcan devices after an individual is transported to the hospital in a rescue vehicle.

“The narcotics that are out there are changing, and they’re becoming stronger,” he said. “What we’re seeing is one dose of Narcan is not having the desired effect that you would expect it to have. Our officers are administering on scene sometimes two and three doses of Narcan.”

In addition to retail expansion, Riccitelli said theft-related crimes tend to coincide with drug violations, as opioid and other drug users sometimes steal and re-sell goods for cash. The opioid crisis, he said, continues to present a concern in North Smithfield.

“It’s always there, it’s just under the surface. It’s not getting any better,” he said. “We haven’t seen a decrease in that.”

Comments

We need a substation at Dowling Village.The people who fought building the village were right!

Save the Narcan for the police officers who are inadvertently exposed and the recidivism of addicts will drop off precipitously. The "problem" will fix itself...

Prior to Dowling Village being given the green light, I knew that it would create problems. I said the town would need to hire more police and 1st responders. Little late to say "I told you so," but I did tell you so but no one wanted to listen. Now I have this nuisance literally in my back yard. I sure hope when it comes time to sell this doesn't decrease the value of my property!

This is a very disturbing trend in the Town of North Smithfield and I believe that those retail establishments that pose the most problems should pay higher taxes. Walmart has been a blight on this community and has done nothing but pose increased police necessity and garbage throughout the town. I would agree that we need a substation at Dowling Village and let those establishments pay for it. Secondly, get those officers out on the streets, policing our town and protecting the citizens. A 26% increase in crimes against citizens is appalling.