Malden is fighting crime and winning. The numbers prove it: Arrests dropped from 1,066 in 2015 compared to 717 in 2016. Malden even saw a slight drop between the two years in drug overdoses and overdose deaths, according to police statistics.
It is easy to say statistics are information provided by police departments to prove they are doing their job. Skeptics love to poke holes in statistics they perceive as one-sided or incomplete.
But the city of Malden is reducing crime, including alcohol-related offenses. Police Chief Kevin Molis seemed to hit squarely on the reason for the reduction when he said, “It’s one of our goals to have members of the police department work with residents …” That explanation defines effective police work: If officers and residents communicate and work closely together, problems contributing to crime can be reported and eliminated.
This “nip it in the bud” approach to crime fighting only works if reasons residents should work with police outweigh reasons why they should not cooperate with them. Crime rises in some communities because a minority of lawbreakers cause trouble and intimidate residents into keeping silent about crimes.
In other communities, relationships between police and residents have broken down for any number of reasons and the leadership required to repair the relationships does not exist.
Malden’s crime reduction statistics suggest these obstacles to law enforcement don’t exist in the city. A large number of Malden residents strongly identify themselves as city residents with generational ties to the city and commitments to improving the neighborhoods they live in.
The city did not release a residential satisfaction survey along with the police statistics, but Malden residents take pride in the city. They seem to be satisfied, if not pleased, with the people running city government and they view city government as a positive force for change in Malden.
The police department has a new station; downtown is about to get a makeover featuring major development, including, eventually, a new City Hall, and traffic is slated to undergo improvements downtown.
These changes add up to reasons to care about Malden. Residents who have a reason to care about the community they live in get involved in their community and take action to improve it. If community involvement and a shrinking crime rate are related, then Malden appears to be headed in the right direction.
City Councilor Neil Kinnon said it has been years since Malden saw a decline in crime like the one highlighted by the latest statistics. Kinnon and fellow councilors are sure to sit down with Molis and Mayor Gary Christenson and debate ways to keep the crime reduction trend rolling.
The police chief will have plenty of suggestions, but some of the best ideas might also come from city residents fully invested in Malden.