Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini outside Haverhill Police Station.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is dismissing a national analysis of FBI data that says the city’s crime rate is “considerably higher than the national average” and “higher than 87 percent of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes.”
The mayor responded crime is actually down over the past 15 years—and down in “very dramatic” ways during the last three years. He said it is inappropriate to compare Haverhill with suburban communities.
“It’s always misleading to compare us with wealthy communities that don’t have the problems we have.”
Haverhill’s crime numbers, based on 2015 FBI data—the newest available—were reported by NeighborhoodScout, an online platform created by Dr. Andrew Schiller, previously a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Atomic Energy Complex.
NeighborhoodScout reported Haverhill residents are subject to 25 crimes per 1,000 residents. When it comes to violent crime, however, NeighborhoodScout reports a resident’s chance of becoming a victim is one in 184. The company describes violent crime as rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon.
The company acknowledges the nearby City of Lawrence has a higher crime rate with 32 crimes per 1,000 residents. It reported, “Lawrence has a crime rate that is higher than 94 percent of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes.” “In fact, after researching dangerous places to live, NeighborhoodScout found Lawrence to be one of the top 100 most dangerous cities in the U.S.A.,” the company said.
Fiorentini, who said he will discuss crime as part of his State of the City Address, provided his own analysis, showing crime is down—in all categories except two—from last year. The categories where crime dropped are forcible rape, robbery, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. There was one murder in Haverhill in 2016 compared to none during the prior year and 47 more reports of assault. The number of assaults rose from 272 in 2015 to 319 last year, according to the mayor’s numbers.
Total crime, however, dropped 1,811 reports in 2015 to 1,616 last year, the mayor said.
“We can’t be compared to suburbs where there is very few people and almost no crime. We had a steady and solid drop in crime.”
FBI’s 2016 won’t be available until later this year.
Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson told WHAV he would not comment on FBI data until he has had a chance to review it. He did use the opportunity, though, to push his contention the city council must have a “workshop” with police at budget time. He listed the objectives of such a meeting.
“Try to determine what the data means, where the problems are in the city, where we fall short in providing resources and then talk about the possible solutions.”
Michitson said the mayor has agreed to hold such workshops—beginning with a review of the public works department. The council president noted the public has a great interest in public safety.
“That was clearly the highest priority at the citizens’ outreach meeting that we had.”
Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro referred all questions to the mayor.