Police calls and violent crimes up in Milford, police chief says

MILFORD — Cities across the country have seen jumps in the number of violent crimes, such as robberies and purse snatches, and Milford is no exception, according to the city’s top cop.

Milford Police Chief Keith Mello said the department has seen an increase in calls during the first three months of 2022, with officers responding to some 21,412 total calls. In 2021, Mello said the total number of calls for service was 58,944.

“In the first three months, we are seeing an increase in calls for service,” Mello said. “That means both complaints that originate from outside callers, which is the majority of calls, and complaints by our officers for things they encounter during their shifts.”

Mello said when calls come in, the department’s communication staff triage calls based on priority.

“Certainly, anything with violence is a priority,” Mello said. “Anything in progress is a priority, and things that are minor in nature or past tense will often have a lower priority.

“It’s important for people to understand that when you have to wait for a police officer, it’s because we are either tied up on other important calls, or other calls have to come in that are higher on our priority list,” the Milford police chief added.

In 2021, there were 1,003 arrests made, 103 car thefts and one homicide. In the first few months of 2022, there have been 366 arrests made, 39 car thefts and no homicides.

In the last 12 months, Mello said there have been an increase in violent crimes like purse snatches and robberies, but he said that is also a larger problem.

“I am aware that this is a statewide problem, perhaps a nationwide problem where you are seeing an increase in violent crimes, especially referring to our stats is robberies, purse snatches,” said Mello.

According to statistics provided by Mello, there have been 32 robberies in the last 12 months, with 28 in 2021. Purse snatchings have gone up to 15 over the last 12 months, with 12 in 2021. There were none for 2018 and 2019.

“We have adjusted our enforcement and prevention activities accordingly,” he said. “We are starting to see those numbers starting to trend downwards, and we believe that is in large part of considerable resources that we are directing to more vulnerable areas, in both what you can see and what you can’t see.”

He said the police department has been successful in solving crimes after the fact, but their main goal is to prevent the crimes from occurring in the first place.

“We want our citizens and the public to feel comfortable while visiting our shopping centers and entertainment districts,” said Mello.

Another category that saw a rise over the last 12 months is larceny with 826 cases, and 765 in 2021. Auto theft rose to 143 in the last 12 months, with 103 in all of 2021. Catalytic converters saw a big rise over the last 12 months with 260 compared to 172 in 2021 and one case in both 2018 and 2019.

“We seeing considerably more thefts of catalytic converters,” said Mello. “These thieves can get under these cars and remove these converters quickly. There is a black market for these. That’s why you are seeing so many of them being stolen.”

There were 10 gun cases in the last 12 months, with eight in 2021. Assaults in the last 12 months were at 124, with 104 in 2021. Theft from motor vehicles rose from 103 in 2021 to 143 over the last 12 months.

“There is considerable increase, but we are starting to see these categories trend downwards due to our considerable enforcement efforts,” said Mello.