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In Bradenton, crime down in 2009

BRADENTON — Crime was down for the sixth consecutive year in 2009, according to Bradenton Police Department annual statistics released Wednesday.

Overall crime decreased by 5.1 percent last year compared to 2008, according to the statistics that include crimes reported in the following categories compiled and sent to Florida Department of Law Enforcement: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft and arson.

“Even though we’ve had a reduction for six years, crime is still too high,” said Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.

This past year, the city had 1,604 larcenies, 136 robberies, 263 aggravated assaults, 538 burglaries, 150 vehicle thefts and four arsons, according to the statistics.

All areas decreased from the previous year with the exception of rape, which rose from 12 cases to 19.

The city had four murders out of a total of 29 homicides that were initially investigated in the county in 2009. The city had an additional murder, bringing the total to five, but police ruled it as justifiable because it was self-defense stemming from a domestic incident. All of the department’s homicide cases are closed with arrests.

Officials attributed the department’s decrease in crime to a proactive community policing philosophy, said Deputy Chief Jeffrey Lewis.

“Commanders, supervisors and officers are permanently assigned to designated geographic areas of the city, which results with familiarity of residents, homes and businesses,” he said.

There are approximately 120 officers at the department.

In 2009, police stopped responding to medical calls to decrease the number of calls for service because of budget cuts, Radzilowski said.

Police responded to 88,175 calls in 2008. This past year, that number decreased to 85,482, according to statistics.

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