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Despite a record high of homicides in 2016, Syracuse has had record low levels of crime

Tom Magnarelli
Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler in February during the high-profile homicide of 21-month-old Maddox Lawrence in 2016.

The city of Syracuse had a record high number of homicides in 2016. That compares to a record low number of violent and overall crimes in 2015. Syracuse officials say while homicides are tougher to control, police do have the power to curb other crimes.

At 30 homicides, it is reportedly the highest number ever for Syracuse. Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said there is not one specific reason for the increase, citing a variety of shooting and domestic instances.  
But many other categories of crime, including robberies, burglaries, even car thefts are at some of the city’s lowest levels in the last 25 years.

Syracuse Common Councilor and former Syracuse Police Chief Steven Thompson said homicides are different than all other crimes. 

“While the number is large this year and disturbing, the bottom line is the police department can make a reduction in burglaries or robberies by putting forth a force in that area," Thompson said. "But it is difficult to put somebody in somebody’s house who verbally gets upset or in a bar or something. You can't really stop homicides. They are one-on-one generally.”

Thompson said he is encouraged that two new classes of police officers were hired in 2016.

"We're hoping to also be able to put a couple more classes on next year where we can get to a level where more community policing can be done instead of officers just having to run from one call to another without any time for interaction with the community," Thompson said.

He also said the council should focus on finding funding to support more community policing in the new year.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.