Town Sees Nearly 70 Percent Drop in Residential Burglaries Since 2011
BEDFORD — Chief John J. Bryfonski is pleased to announce that the Bedford Police Department implemented several initiatives throughout 2016 to improve the safety, quality of life and sense of community for residents.
The 2016 Bedford Police Department Annual Report shows a sharp decrease in residential burglaries and a re-commitment to traffic safety and community policing by the department.
Burglary incidents – including commercial, residential and attempted – fell by 18 percent from 2015 to 2016. Commercial burglaries alone dropped by 83 percent, with only one being reported in 2016 compared to six incidents reported in 2015. While two more Bedford homes were burglarized this year (11 in 2016 compared to 2015’s nine), the overall rate of residential burglaries has dropped 68 percent since 2011.
“The burglary rate has plummeted thanks to the utilization of crime statistics, criminal intelligence, and intelligence-driven proactive patrols by Bedford officers,” Chief Bryfonski said. “I commend our detectives and patrol officers for their diligence, which has yielded incredible results. I also want to mention our Neighborhood Watch Program; the Department’s “eyes and ears” that we depend upon for timely information regarding suspicious activity. With more than 32 square miles and 200 miles of roads to patrol, our residents are critical to helping us make Bedford one of the best places to live, work and recreate in New Hampshire.”
Thefts from a motor vehicle also dropped 5 percent this year, but Bedford Police strongly caution residents to lock their cars at all times. The “Lock it or Lose it” safety initiative was created to remind car owners when to lock their cars, and what to remove from or secure inside a vehicle when it’s unoccupied.
In addition to patrols to target local crime, Bedford Police also implemented an Intensive Traffic Enforcement Program (ITEP) to reduce distracted driving. The department issued more than 1800 motor vehicle summons and over 850 motor vehicle warnings for speeding, running red lights, texting while driving, and seat belt/child restraint requirements. Overall, Bedford Police issued 46 percent more motor vehicle summons, 18 percent more motor vehicle warnings and 23 percent more arrests for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
The ITEP program was developed as a result of two fatal crashes on consecutive days in July. The first was a result of single vehicle rollover on South River Road on July 29, where one of the three occupants died. The second incident occurred on July 30 when a motor vehicle turned in front of an oncoming motorcycle, which resulted in the death of the motorcyclist.
Additionally, the ITEP was designed to send a clear message to drivers that safety-related violations will not be tolerated. Route 101 and South River Road, areas which see the majority of Bedford traffic and collisions, had the highest volume of traffic patrols this year. Moving forward, the program’s plan seeks to not only increase highway police patrol cars, but also implement police motorcycle patrols along more residential town streets when the Patrol Division sees an increase in its staffing in 2017.
Throughout 2016, Bedford Police utilized state grants to augment the extra patrols, which led to the significant increase in summonses issued for safety related violations. In April, Bedford hired three new officers, who significantly contributed to increasing the number of officers on the streets at any given time, one of the department’s core goals for the year. Overall, officer-initiated activity increased by 15 percent in 2016 (more than 2,800 actions), which accounted for the department successfully maintaining a low crime rate, leading community policing initiatives and the increase in traffic patrols.
The Bedford Police Department also made a concerted effort to interact with residents through their community policing initiatives in 2016. In April, the department hosted “Social Media: A Predator’s Playground,” a forum for parents, educators, and community leaders on how to protect children while online. In June, Bedford Police invited community members to their Annual Open House, which showcased the department’s mobile command center, provided tours of the station, and had K-9 demonstrations. Every year the open house also offers activities, interactive rides, and games for children in an effort to forge connections between Bedford officers and the town’s youth.
“We had a great year in 2016,” Chief Bryfonski said. “We not only implemented several community policing initiatives, but were able to significantly decrease crime while working hard to improve traffic safety and the quality of life in Bedford. I look forward to continuing to further our relationships with residents in 2017.”