For the fourth year in a row, crime in Saugerties is down, according to the year-end crime report released by police chief Joseph Sinagra.
Arrests were also down from 583 in 2015 to 410 last year. Of those, felony arrests decreased from 48 to 43, misdemeanors from 266 to 176 and violations from 269 to 191.
Burglaries increased from 31 in 2015 to 39 last year, while larcenies decreased from 30 to 17.
The chief cautions that the numbers in the report reflect only cases handled by the Saugerties police and do not include those handled by the state police, sheriff’s office, or the state Department of Environmental Conservation police.
Sinagra pointed out that in 2015 there were no murders, but in 2016 there were two, both the result of domestic violence incidents. In both cases, Sinagra said they were either committed by a non-resident or by someone who had recently moved to Saugerties.
Domestic violence incidents, even with the two murders, both of which were quickly solved by police, have shown a decrease over the last three years with 296 reported incidents in 2014, 278 in 2015, and 253 last year.
Sinagra attributed the reduction to awareness efforts by the department including the purple-and-white police car that lets victims of violence know that there is help available, and education efforts which start at the high school level.
Motorists and pedestrians will soon see a stepped-up enforcement by police to try and reduce the number of walkers getting hit by vehicles. Two years ago, after a number of pedestrians were hit and one was killed, police began a public awareness program that included ticketing motorists who did not obey state laws and ticketing pedestrians who did not cross in crosswalks. There was a reduction in the number of people hit from 14 in 2013 to seven in 2014 and five in 2015, “but the increase to six last year will mean we have to keep beating the drum about pedestrian safety,” Sinagra said.
A new safety campaign will begin this spring, and the state is making funds available to police departments to enforce it.
In addition to the decrease in overall crime, police also handled fewer calls. A total of 19,461 units were dispatched last year as compared to 21,435 the previous year.
The burglary increase was the result of a rash of vehicle break-ins last year, Sinagra said. These are usually crimes of opportunity committee by youths 14 to 20 years old, he added. And in every case the vehicles broken into where the ones that were left unlocked. In two of the cases handguns that were left in unlocked cars were stolen. One has been recovered, Sinagra said.
Sex offenses decreased from 20 in 2015 to 16 last year. There are 35 registered sex offenders in Saugerties.
Sinagra said a quick-thinking youngster may have prevented an offense earlier this week. The youngster had just gotten off a bus from school in the area of Route 9W and Arthur Lane when a car pulled up alongside him, and the driver asked him if he wanted a ride. “The youngster ran away and we were called,” Sinagra said.
Sinagra would like to see narcotics-related crimes reduced. Last year police made 18 narcotics arrests, plus 29 arrests for small quantities of marijuana.
To help reduce the amount of narcotics in Saugerties, Sinagra wants to have his department join Urgent, the county’s anti-narcotics task force. He said the problem was getting to the point were further steps need to be taken to reduce it in Saugerties through education and law enforcement.
Quoting the 19th-century British police official Sir Robert Peel, Sinagra said, “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action dealing with it.”