LAWRENCE — Mayor Daniel Rivera plans to go “knocking on doors” this weekend to give residents and business owners advice on how to avoid becoming victims of robberies.
Acting Police Chief James Fitzpatrick has created a special three-officer task force to focus on robbery “hot spots” throughout the city and activated a hotline for citizens to report information about ongoing robberies and suspects carrying illegal firearms.
It’s all part of a “Robbery Reduction Initiative” announced yesterday by the mayor and the police chief in response to a rapid rise in armed robberies reported so far this year — including six last Saturday night.
“We’re doing over one a day,” Fitzpatrick said of the armed robberies in an interview last night.
“There have been 16 robberies since the beginning of January. We’re up 30 percent for the year already,” the chief said.
With police responding to 280 robberies last year, they averaged about 23-a-month. So far this year, robberies are averaging 30-a-month, according to the chief.
“We identified this as an issue back in November and December. It was starting to accelerate back then,” the chief said.
There were 18 armed robberies in December 2013, compared with 14 in December 2012.
Yesterday’s announcement comes on the heels of recent meetings between the mayor and the Police Department Command staff over crime analysis data that showed disturbing patterns in the city, according to the mayor.
“They talked to me, using the crime analysis, which showed where the hot spots are — and that made a case for this initiative,” Rivera said in an interview last night.
“We’re going to be on offense, going after perpetrators in the places where it’s happening the most. I’m going to be hands-on, on this. I think the chief and his staff are smart in the way they are going about this. They looked at the data and adopted a plan. We’re going to make Lawrence safer,” the mayor vowed.