Crime in Kingston dipped slightly during the first 11 months of 2014, continuing a trend towards a safer city. Nearly as important, said Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti, the public perception of city crime seems to be keeping pace.
“That’s definitely the feeling I’m getting when I go to meetings and talk to people,” said Tinti. “The streets are calmer, it’s safer.”
Statistics generated by the KPD and verified by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services show that overall the seven major “index crimes” — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft — fell to 693, a decrease of 1.7 percent during the first 11 months of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. Over the past 10 years, reported crimes have dropped significantly, if sometimes fitfully in Kingston. In 2005, the city experienced a decade-high 1,208 index crimes, in 2012 there were 842 and in 2013, 761.
In 2014, crime fell in every category except one — larcenies, which rose by 3.2 percent. Burglary, meanwhile, fell by 21 percent from 103 in the first 11 months of 2013 to 81 in the same period last year. Aggravated assaults, which frequently involve weapons and are a good indicator of the general level of violence in a community, fell 19.5 percent, from 41 to 33.
The numbers also show no letup in KPD’s efforts to crack down on street-level drug activity. One hundred-nineteen people were arrested on felony drug charges during the first 11 months of 2014, compared to 116 in the same period in 2013. Misdemeanor drug arrests rose by 16.9 percent, from 71 to 83. Cops also recovered 15 illegal guns in 2014, compared to 12 in 2013. There were just two shooting incidents leading to injury in the city last year.
Those numbers compare favorably to other Hudson Valley cities. In Poughkeepsie, for example, there were 841 index crimes and 12 shooting incidents involving injury in the first 11 months of 2014, while Newburgh saw 1,175 index crimes and 40 shooting incidents in the same period.
Tinti said it’s difficult to account for the downward trend in Kingston. But, he said, a number of innovations in the department had led to more and more visible police presence on the streets. According to Tinti, mobile data terminals now allow Kingston cops to file reports and other paperwork from the field, rather than the station house. Tinti also credited a new patrol scheme which emphasizes police presence on the Broadway Corridor with cooling off some of the city’s traditional crime hotspots. Tinti added that a series of major drug sweeps conducted in 2011 and 2012 which netted dozens of low and mid-level drug offenders had removed a number of gang members and violent felons from Kingston’s street scene.
“There’s no one thing you can put your finger on,” said Tinti. “It’s a lot of little things.”