HOLYOKE - Violent crimes dropped by 40 percent in the city last year due to police work and the efforts of various community organizations, according to the city's police chief and mayor. "The police are doing a great job," Mayor Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday.

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke Design by Kvelazquez

"That's part of it. But you're never going to have a profound reduction like this without changing the way you do business." Police Chief Anthony R. Scott yesterday released the violent crime statistics for the city for 2007. Such statistics are part of a nationwide United Crime Report, which tracks the statistics of nine crimes: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a firearm, breaking & entering, theft-larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson.

The overall number of violent crimes in Holyoke in 2007 was 438. In contrast, the total number of such crimes in the city in 2006 was 725, a difference of 287 crimes or 40 percent. "These figures reflect the hard work of the men and women of the Holyoke Police Department," Scott wrote in a statement released yesterday. Scott also credits the mayor, the mayor's "peace initiative" and other city officials for the reduction in crime.

"They have passed some significant ordinances and approved the necessary funding which was utilized to conduct crime fighting operations which resulted in the arrest of career criminals and removing them from our streets." The largest change in statistics came in category of aggravated assault, in which the number of such crimes dropped by 49 percent from 537 in 2006 to 273 in 2007.

Sullivan credited the overall reduction in the city's violent crime rate partly to the Peace Initiative Committee, which was formed by Sullivan in 2000, his first year in office, following the slaying of Police Officer John A. DiNapoli on Dec. 22, 1999, and general unrest in the city. Sullivan also credited various local organizations, including Girls Inc., Holyoke's Boys & Girls Club and regular neighborhood meetings. "Having neighborhood meetings have been a great help," Sullivan said.