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As recently reported, crime in Waterloo was down for the third straight year in 2017.

That constitutes a trend, a welcome one.

In fact, the reported crime numbers have dwindled to the lowest in decades.

“The numbers tell the story: Waterloo is a safe community where crime is low,” said Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart. “Proactive public safety is a continuous process of adapting, responding and adjusting to what is happening in the culture. Some of what worked a few years ago no longer works today. We will continue to implement innovative solutions to make sure our officers are prepared and equipped for the next challenge.”

The stats for 2017 show Group A offenses — about 30 serious crimes — dropped 8.21 percent over the prior year, and Group B offenses — disorderly conduct, trespassing and other minor crimes — decreased 2.16 percent.

Total index crimes — murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft — were down in 2017, from 2,214 reported in 2016 to 1,919 last year.

Of the index crimes, aggravated assault saw the largest decrease, a 40 percent drop from 321 reported cases in 2016 to 191 last year. Rape dropped from 39 to 30, and robbery decreased from 61 to 54. Burglaries were down from 634 to 547, and larcenies decreased from 1,021 to 943.

Part of the great news here is that last year at this time, the Waterloo Police Department reported overall crime in Waterloo had dipped to record lows in 2016.

“The Waterloo Police Department has implemented effective community policing strategies, and we are a department of dedicated, hardworking professionals,” said Waterloo Police Chief Daniel Trelka. “We are going to further refine our strategies for 2018 to further effectively deal with a small group of individuals who are committing our most violent crimes.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Trelka’s assessment of his department as dedicated and hardworking, and we fully support their efforts and will always endeavor to understand their challenges.

As an editorial board, we have visited with Trelka over the years and trust his word the department will further refine and adapt its strategies going forward.

Trelka has always stated he prefers to look at crime statistics using multiple years instead of a single-year snapshot.

Likewise, residents should also consider crime statistics in proper perspective. Whether they increase or decrease over one particular year, a few anomalies — such as a rash of vandalism cases — can skew final percentages. It’s always best to look at trends over a number of years.

Of course, we’re delighted to see the trend arrow pointing downward.

Since coming to Waterloo, Trelka has employed a strategy of community policing. The trust between a community police department and city residents is an important component in making strides toward a safer city.

We believe the department has worked toward good, positive relations with residents and that effort is showing results. When people feel comfortable in contacting police when a crime has been committed, or providing information that can help police in criminal investigations, that also is an offshoot of community policing.

These most recent statistics give us one more opportunity to thank the Waterloo Police Department leaders and officers for their diligence in making the city as safe as possible.


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