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DEGENHART TIES RISE IN OFFENSES TO DRUG TRADE ASSAULT, ROBBERY INCREASED; RAPE, MURDER DECLINED, '89 FIGURES SHOW

Buffalo had 26,811 violent and property-related crimes last year -- a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year -- and Police Commissioner Ralph V. Degenhart attributed much of the problem to the drug trade.

Assaults, robberies, larcenies and theft of vehicles -- serious crimes reported to the FBI -- increased by 7 percent, from 17,920 in 1988 to 19,177 last year, according to the Police Department's 1989 report released Tuesday.

Murders, rapes and burglaries, however, decreased slightly in the same period.

Police reported 43 murders in 1989, four fewer than in 1988 and an 8.5 percent drop to about one per 7,442 people. The number of reported rapes went down by 22, from 290 in 1988. The number of burglaries fell from 7,389 to 7,323.

But the overall number of violent crimes -- which include murder, rape, assault and robbery -- increased by 5.2 percent, from 4,261 to 4,485.

Police made 223 arrests in 1989 on charges of selling or manufacturing illicit drugs, a 49 percent increase over the 150 arrests made in 1988. Arrests for the use or possession of drugs also rose to 1,599 last year, up from 1,242.

"They are certainly interrelated, drugs and burglaries, drugs and robberies, drugs and larcenies," said Degenhart, who noted that addicts resort to crime to get money to buy drugs.

Serious property crimes, which include burglaries, larcenies and reports of stolen vehicles, also increased, from 21,385 to 22,326.

In all, 1989 had 1,165 more violent and property crimes than the previous year.

Although police say the drug trade leads to other crimes, Degenhart said it is difficult to determine from the report what causes crime to increase. Police officials can only use the report to study crime trends and react accordingly, he said.

"It's very difficult to ascertain why (overall crime increased)," Degenhart said. "It just seems to be a general trend in the country that crime is on the upsurge."

The report also showed that calls for service -- to emergency 911 operators -- increased 2 percent, from 344,703 in 1988 to 351,820 last year.

The Kensington Station precinct -- bounded by East Delavan Avenue to the south, Main Street to the west and Amherst and Cheektowaga to the north and east -- received the greatest number of calls. The precinct's officers responded to 44,437 calls for service, 4,391 more than the Genesee Station precinct, bounded by East Delavan to the north, Bailey Avenue to the east, Sycamore Street to the south and Roehrer Avenue to the west. The Kensington Station precinct had more homicides, 12; burglaries, 1,175, and larcenies-thefts, 1,281, than any other precinct.

But the Genesee Station precinct had more robberies, 273; assaults, 539, and rapes, 59.

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