Holyoke, MA

Holyoke: loosening the shackles of crime

Jayne B. Stearns

For three years running, the data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program - a collection of the number of offenses that come to the attention of law enforcement for violent crime and property crime across each town, city, state, and region - rated Holyoke among the top three as one of the most dangerous cities in Massachusetts. This is despite the fact that the crime rate in Holyoke has been steadily decreasing for the past five years. This year, the crime rate in Holyoke has decreased by 12.55%. Arrests are down as well.

That’s good news! Holyoke has been given a bad rap for a long time, so it’s good to see the crime tide steadily turning in the opposite direction.

Two crime categories were measured, each containing numerous subcategories:

  • Violent Crimes – murder, aggravated assault, and non-consensual sex offenses
  • Property Crimes – larceny, fraud, arson, car theft, burglary property destruction, counterfeiting/forgery, robbery, breaking and entering.

Statistics are the result of a complicated compilation of collection, analysis, interpretation, as well as numerical data. Let’s look at the overview of some of that data:

Number of Overall Crimes: 3,603 (12.48% decrease from the previous year)

Clearance Rate: 19%
Population: 40,002
Crime Rate: 9,007 per 100,000

Number of Overall Arrests: 1,065 (38.69% decrease from the previous year)
Population: 40,002 Arrest Rate: 2,662 per 100,000

It’s widely recognized that crime has decreased across the country during the pandemic, largely due to lockdowns and the resultant restriction of movement. People have not had access to situations where the opportunity for committing a crime exists. Regardless, this does not wholly account for the decrease in crime in our city.

Some bad news

The bad news? Two classifications within the violent crimes category increased over the last year:

  • Murders - are on the upswing in Holyoke by 100%, with the most victims of those violent crimes being between the ages of 18-24.
  • Aggravated assault - increased by 9.06%. The word ‘aggravated’ is defined by the State of Massachusetts as:
“An unlawful attack by one person upon another wherein the offender uses a weapon or displays it in a threatening manner, or the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness. This also includes assault with disease (as in cases when the offender is aware that he/she is infected with a deadly disease and deliberately attempts to inflict the disease by biting, spitting, etc.).”

Although the above two categories of violent crime increased from last year, the total number of violent and property crimes in Holyoke has still maintained a consistent downward trend.

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Resources:

https://masscrime.chs.state.ma.us/tops/report/crime-overview/holyoke/2020

https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/publications

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Jayne is a freelance writer, published poet, and award-winning playwright who specializes in writing human interest stories and anything else that satisfies a multitude of curiosities.

Holyoke, MA
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