FORT WAYNE (WANE) — Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, along with Police Chief Steve Reed and Fire Chief Eric Lahey held a press conference Wednesday to outline how 2021 went and plans for 2022 regarding public safety.

Here are the stats and future plans provided by the city:

  • Fort Wayne Police Department Data and Highlights from 2021:
  • *The FWPD’s 21st and 22nd classes of Lateral Officers began their duty on the streets. 
  • *A new FWPD Recruitment Team began work in 2021.
  • *Over 100 additional body cameras were added to the FWPD.
  • *Officers responded to over 140,000 calls for service.
  • *Overall crime was down 6%.
  • *Violent crime was down 36.74%.
  • *Property crimes were down .05%.
  • *There were 41 homicides in 2021 with a 76% clearance rate of 2021 homicides.
  • *Over 850 firearms were taken off the street, with 39 of those related to homicides.
  • *Two social workers were added to the Hope and Recover Team (HART), which connects adults who have experienced a nonfatal overdose with treatment and recovery services.
  • *HART connected 371 individuals with treatment and recovery services.
  • *There were 115 overdose deaths, with 95 pending toxicology results.
  • *The FWPD received a $735,000 Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-Based Program grant, a $98,609 Justice Assistance Grant and a $95,817 Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act grant.
    FWPD Plans for 2022:  
  • *The FWPD’s 66th recruit class will begin later this month, which will bring the staffing level up to 485 officers.
  • *All Uniform Operations personnel will be equipped with body cameras.
  • *The Drone as First Responder program will begin.
  • *An additional sergeant will be added to the Homicide Unit to assist in continued efforts to solve homicide cases.
  • *A new Traffic Enforcement Unit will begin later in the year.
  • Fort Wayne Fire Department Data and Highlights from 2021:
  • *The FWFD added 14 new recruits, who also hold Advanced Life Support certifications.
  • *There were over 27,000 calls for service (13,000 associated with EMS).
  • *Firefighters received over 110,000 hours of training, with 2,000 hours of live fire training.
  • *Every member of the FWFD completed the United Front Initiative training.
  • * The FWFD received two new replacement engines.
  • *The final construction phase of the Live Instructional Fire Education Center was completed.
  • *Beginning in 2020, and completed in 2021, the FWFD Training Division developed and implemented a robust on-line training platform that allows firefighters to stay current on training without compromising their safety. 
  • *The FWFD secured over $1.1 million in grant funding to use for radios, rescue tools and recruit training.
  • *The Code Enforcement Division completed almost 7,000 local business inspections, 22% more than in 2020.
  • *The FWFD Division of Public Education completed 276 programs that reached over 6,000 local students and over 400 adults.
  • *The FWFD distributed over 400 free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to local residents. 
  • *The FWFD Investigations Division completed over 300 investigations, a 10% increase over the number of investigations completed in 2020.
  • *There was a 2% increase in the number of fires that were determined to be intentionally set as compared to 2020.
  • *The Investigations Division completed 20 arrests in 2021, a 1% increase when compared to 2020.
  • FWFD Plans for 2022:
  • *The FWFD will receive two more engines in February to replace Engine 19 and Engine 16.
  • *The bidding process will be completed and radios will be upgraded to utilize the Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant awarded in 2021.
  • *Twenty-four recruits will begin their training as part of the 94th recruit class.
  • *Ground will be broken for the new location of Station 14, on the southeast corner of State Blvd. and Reed Rd.
  • *Every firefighter will participate in a comprehensive emergency vehicle driver operator course which will include lessons on the theory of firefighting hydraulics. 
  • *The Fire Merit System Rules overhaul will be completed, a two year project involving members of City Council, the Fire Administration and the IAFF Local 124. 

WANE 15 asked Mayor Henry and Chief Reed about the homicide rate in Fort Wayne as well as near-record amount of drug overdose deaths in 2021.

While the city notes that violent crime is down 37.74%, there were 41 homicides in Fort Wayne in 2021. That’s just one fewer than 2020 which saw 42 homicides, but it is lower than the 46 homicides in 2018.

“Under the circumstances, the homicide rate in Fort Wayne, really, is about the best that we can do in a city our size,” Mayor Henry said. “If you look at other communities our size or larger, you’ve seen significant increases. In some cities, record-breaking.”

Chief Reed did noted that FWPD had a 76% clearance rate on homicides last year.

“We’ve increased our homicide division. This year, I’ve added a second Sergeant to the division, as well as ten detectives. They work as a team. They go out when a homicide comes in. The whole team starts on a homicide, that’s the high clearance rate. 76% — That will go higher,” Chief Reed said.

On the topic of illegal drugs, both Mayor Henry and Chief Reed talked about their level of concern about needing to clean up the streets.

In 2021, WANE previously reported that FWPD seized a record-amount of fentanyl. They took an estimated 2.5 million fatal doses off the streets by seizing more than 5,000 grams.

Chief Reed said the work Vice and Narcotics did was amazing, but admits that if that amount was seized, then there’s more out there.

“We have to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our state and into our country, and we are attempting to handle that here in Allen County,” Chief Reed said. “By showing how much we seized, we are doing pretty good on that.”

Fort Wayne had 115 drug overdose deaths last year, but there are still 95 pending toxicology reports. Depending on those results, the record of 144 fatal overdoses set in 2019 could be in jeopardy.

Mayor Henry pointed to Fort Wayne’s location as a key contributor to drugs reaching Fort Wayne.

“The city of Fort Wayne is, unfortunately for us, located demographically in a way that a lot of drugs come up from the south and they split east and west going out of Fort Wayne. We do know that it is happening. We’ve tried to institute best practices and modern technology in trying to get our head around that situation,” Mayor Henry said.

As noted in the city’s list of highlights, FWPD is doing what it can to get people help. Its Healing and Recovery Team or HART was able to connect 371 people with treatment and recovery services in 2021.