Mayoral candidates Smith, Henry spar over city’s violent crime record

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Is Fort Wayne violent crime up or down? That’s one of many points of contention for both of the city’s mayoral candidates.

On Wednesday, Republican candidate Tim Smith spoke at a GOP luncheon where he presented statistics he said tell the truth about crime in Fort Wayne.

His first rebuttal was to a claim by Henry in recent commercials that violent crime is at its lowest since 1988. Smith cites data from The U.S. Department of Justice, which has data until 2014, and the Fort Wayne Police Department.

The data show an overall decline in the violent crime rate since 1988, though they also show an uptick since 2007, one year before Henry became mayor, where the rate increased from 307 to 385 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The violent crime rate was 609 per 100,000 residents in 1988.

Henry responded in a comment to WANE, saying, “Truth is, Fort Wayne is a safe place to live, work and play… I’m focused on the safety of all Fort Wayne residents – today, tomorrow, and for years to come.”

Smith also rebutted against Henry’s claim that homicides are down by 50 percent, calling them “misleading.” He says the claim references an article by the Journal Gazette only looking at statistics between the first quarter of 2018 and 2019 which he claims only shows a 34 percent decline in homicides. Smith also says this data set is “not a trend” as it only looks at the span of one year of Henry’s tenure.

The final main claim Smith discussed was the phrase, “Fort Wayne is the Fifth Safest City in the U.S.” The claim references a 2012 Visit Fort Wayne article citing an Insurance Providers study looking specifically at the following factors: driving safety, likelihood of natural disaster, and crime rate. Smith suggests a study from 2012 is not a good metric for the state of Fort Wayne in 2019. Two studies from 2019 cited by Smith (from The Journal Gazette and Security Baron) rank Fort Wayne at 24 and 41 in Indiana, not the entirety of the U.S., respectively.

Election day is Tuesday, November 5 in Fort Wayne. WANE will host and televise the final debate on Tuesday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m.

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