RUMFORD — An effort to address increasing criminal activity in Lewiston has been so successful it’s pushing some criminal elements to other parts of the state, including Rumford, police Chief Stacy Carter said.

Carter told the Board of Selectmen on March 19 that to combat that, Rumford will start Operation Hot Spots. “It will likely be starting up in April and going for the next couple of years.”

“It’s been going on for two years in the Lewiston area, where they’ve had a significant increase in violent crimes there,” he said. “They partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Project Safe Neighborhoods to bring this Operation Hot Spots to Lewiston. What it is is a collaboration between local, county, state and federal law enforcement partnering together and working as a unit to address the increasing criminal activity.”

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a national initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice to reduce gun violence.

“The good thing is that they realize this and have reached out, through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to include some of these other communities and bring them in on this Project Safe Neighborhoods grant application. Rumford has been included in that, as have Augusta and Bangor,” Carter said.

“We’re looking at concentrating our efforts in Rumford high-call-volume areas and hope to bring some calm to the area,” he said. “We certainly don’t have it as bad as some of these bigger cities, but for our population base and the amount of resources that we have, when you put it on a scale, we’re similar.

“So we’re going to use these efforts and collaborate with other agencies and you’ll see a presence here throughout the summer and fall months from time to time so that we can address some issues,” he said.

“We can’t do this without community support, so coming this spring, we’ll be having a community meeting to inform the public of what we’re doing, how they can assist us in this and ensure them that Rumford is a safe place,” the chief said. “We want it to stay a safe place and it takes community involvement.”

He also noted that Lewiston is tearing down apartment buildings to beat the band because of non-code compliance and related issues, which is driving up the prices of apartments because of the reduced availability.

“Speaking with some newcomers to the area, we’ve seen a lot of new faces,” Carter said. “They have told us they are coming to Rumford because of available housing that’s a lot cheaper than Lewiston and they can commute.”

Last week in an email, the chief said his department and BAIR Analytics recently partnered to provide a new way for the public to stay informed about crime in Rumford.

The department now has an online crime map called RAIDS Online (www.raidsonline.com) that maps and analyzes crime data and alerts citizens about crimes in their area.

Rumford residents can view a map and grid with certain crimes in their area. They can submit an anonymous tip about a crime directly to www.rumfordpd.com/tips.

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