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Police Chief's Monthly Message for May 2016
Most are familiar with the definition of a “myth.” The dictionary describes the word in part as any invented story, idea or concept. Although myths can delight our imagination, certain myths can impair our ability to make informed decisions and develop good judgment. In this month’s article, I hope to dispel the myth that crime is localized to only large urban areas and that there is not any crime in Dunstable. Unfortunately, the false proposition of such a myth can hinder effective crime prevention efforts and lessen community awareness.

Similar too many other smaller communities, Duntable residents are not immune from the effects of crime. The recent “smash and grabs” into motor vehicles which disrupted the serenity of Larter Field demonstrated this premise. The police department’s investigation into the activities of the loosely organized “Felony Lane Group” supports the fact that criminal activities are highly mobile and are not just localized to particular larger jurisdictions. The fact is that we remain in close proximity to a major highway (escape route) and a contiguous urban population which is striving to lessen their urban crime rate.

A recent Boston Globe report indicated that Middlesex County and the State of Massachusetts continue to grow in population. There remains little doubt that this population growth continues to impact our risk of crime. Each day, our department receives daily criminal intelligence reports alerting our officers to crime incidents and crime trends within close proximity to our town borders. Some of these crime reports involve not only property crime, but violent crime. This past March our officers arrested a suspect within our community who was wanted for a violent assault in the Burlington area.

It is not a myth that our officers continue to arrest individuals located within our community that remain “on the run” as fugitives from justice. We believe that suspects “on the run” present an increased risk of crime to the community. Citizen tips and active motor vehicle enforcement have demonstrated individuals with violent histories have been located within our community. In addition, our officers have seized illegal drugs and money that were used to support the distribution of drugs. We still have more to do as we continue to receive reports of drug addiction and the discarding of hypodermic needles along the roadways.

Although we do not like to discuss violent crime such as murder, rape and aggravated assault, the reality is that these events do infrequently occur in small communities. Duntable is no different than any other community concerning this topic. Unfortunately, our officers recently investigated a violent stabbing within our community, resulting in serious injury and one arrest.  As a professional department, our officers continue to regularly follow-up on an un-solved murder (cold case) which impacted the community several decades ago and forever impacts the family.

In closing, Dunstable continues to remain a beautiful community to reside within or just visit. The dedicated officers of the department continue to strive to remain an effective buffer between you and crime. It is true that we continue to succeed in maintaining a lower crime rate, but such an effort requires the continual effort of the police and the community/citizens working together while dispelling myths that support complacency. We must continue to develop a healthy awareness that crime can exist regardless of where we reside or frequent. A balanced approach to crime which defends against complacency and paralyzing fear may serve as an appropriate response to the risk of crime.

Statements which indicate that there is not any crime in Dunstable are unfortunately a myth which, although well meaning, can affect our crime prevention efforts and reduce watchful vigilance. Interested readers wishing to learn more can view our regular reports. Our reports indicate that working together; we can deter, detect and prevent crime.


James G. Downes III
Chief of Police

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