Monday, July 22, 2024

Numbers show hit-and-runs down slightly in Wilmington, but they’re still hard to solve

The annual police report shows hit-and-run incidents dropped by more than 100 in 2017 as compared to the year before

WPD cleared more than 400 hit and run accidents in 2017 and have two dedicated officers to solving them due to an increase in occurrences (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy WPD)
The Wilmington Police Department cleared more than 400 hit-and-run accidents in 2017 and have two dedicated officers. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Wilmington Police Department)

WILMINGTON—The Wilmington Police Department has released its annual report for 2017, and some numbers, like calls for service, are down while other numbers are up.

Motor vehicle hit-and-runs are becoming a more common occurrence in Wilmington as the city continues to grow. The city now has dedicated two officers to handle these incidents, but the clearance rate of these crimes still remains under 50 percent.

In 2015, there were 1,260 hit and runs, with 262 cleared by investigators. In 2016, there 1,297 hit-and-runs reported, and 317 cleared.

Clearing a hit and run is by nature more difficult than some other incidents. According to Wilmington Police Spokeswoman Linda Rawley Thompson, “The fact that there are often no witnesses and the other party is unknown, it does make it difficult to clear these cases.”

The Wilmington Police Department’s annual report for 2017 has hit-and-runs broken down into two patrol divisions, the Northwest Patrol and the Southeast Patrol.

Together the two patrol units cleared 405 hit-and-runs in 2017. Hit-and-run incidents in 2017 were slightly lower than previous years with about 1,190 total accidents reported.

The Northwest Patrol is located at 615 Bess Street and serves the western and northern regions of the city including the central business district, downtown, and Districts 1-4.

Located on South College Road the Southeast Patrol Division is home to the highest call volume (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy WPD)
Located on South College Road the Southeast Patrol Division is home to the highest call volume (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Wilmington Police Department)

The Southeast Patrol is located at 2451 South College Street and patrols Districts 5-6. District 5 is the busiest patrol district and includes South College Road, Market Street and Oleander Drive.

In the Northwest Patrol Division, a total of 295 accidents were cleared in 2017; 91 were cleared through arrest and 204 were cleared by citation. This was a 39.92 percent clearance rate, meaning more than 400 incidents in the division went unsolved.

A graph showing the clearance rate on the rise for WPD and hit and run accidents (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy WPD)
A graph showing the Wilmington Police Department’s clearance rate has increased for hit and run accidents.(Port City Daily photo/Courtesy WPD)

Despite less than half of the total hit-and-runs in 2017 being cleared, the number of such incidents solved is up from just over a 20 percent clearance rate in 2015, and a 26.7 percent clearance rate in 2016.

The numbers in the Southeastern Division were lower than the Northwest Division in 2017. For that year, the division had a clearance rate of 24.5 percent, 111 cases were cleared with 26 leading to arrest and 85 resulting in citation.

“As far as the hit and runs we have assigned two officers to handle them because of the growing number of hit and run accidents in our community,” Thompson said, referring to long term increases over the last ten years.

Investigative Services Bureau

WPD seized $113,000 in cash in 2017 along with more than 35,000 bags of heroin (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy WPD)
Wilmington Police Department officers seized $113,000 in cash in 2017 along with more than 35,000 bags of heroin (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy WPD)

The Wilmington Police Department’s Investigative Services Bureau consists of two distinct divisions that are the Criminal Investigations Division and the Special Investigation Division.

“The Criminal Investigations Division is responsible for many different types of investigations including property crimes, violent assaults, sex crimes, domestic violence, fraud, and juvenile crimes,” according to the annual report.

The division also works in partnership with the US Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force. In 2017 WPD made 56 fugitive arrests.

The Special Investigations Division focuses its time on vice, gang activity, and drugs, in 2017 investigators seized $113,000 in cash and more than 35,000 bags of heroin. The division also seized 31 firearms, 26 pounds of marijuana, 17 grams of meth, and 2,306 grams of cocaine.


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