The City of Fort Wayne’s crime rate in 2001 was the third lowest total in the city during the past 20 years. Our crime rate has remained stable for the last three years. This is evidence that what we are doing as a community is working.

In the southwest quadrant, the number of crimes increased 0.03 percent. Robberies accounted for virtually all of the increase. We saw reductions in rapes, assaults, larcenies, vehicle thefts and arsons. Deputy Chief Doug Lucker and his officers understand that keeping crime in check requires working with business owners and residents. I want to thank Deputy Chief Lucker and his staff for the wonderful job they have done.

I recently announced during a Report to the People speech to the Southwest Area Partnership that I created a Neighborhood Response Team. This full-time unit, consisting of five police officers and one sergeant, will focus on concerns raised by neighborhoods. Police Chief Rusty York expects to add another supervisor and three patrol officers in the future.

Before now, we haven’t had a unit or a group of officers dedicated to solving a particular pattern of crime or series of crimes. The team will prioritize neighborhood concerns based upon the potential impact on the greatest number of people and the severity of the crime. The team’s first project is focused on recovering stolen property.

The command staff will continue to meet monthly with neighborhood partnership chairs to discuss crime patterns and concerns. Residents with suggestions for the Neighborhood Response Team should contact their area partnership chairperson.

We all have a role to play in making Fort Wayne a safer community. I call upon the Fort Wayne Police & Fire Departments, Board of Health, Hospitals, City Council members, the Prosecutor, neighborhood leaders, business owners, religious leaders and others to continue these great partnerships.