Kingston police report: Serious crimes drop in 2016, but drug arrests rose

Photo by Dan Barton

Statistics released by the Kingston Police Department show that the number of serious crimes reported in the city declined significantly between 2015 and last year. The numbers also show that arrests for felony-level drug crimes spiked last year after falling well below average in 2015.

The crime statistics track seven “index crimes” used by the FBI to generate national crime figures. Index crimes are divided into two categories — violent offenses, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and property crimes like burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

The latest data shows that overall, index crimes fell by 23.4 percent from 731 in 2015 to 560 last year. A slight increase in violent crime from 71 in 2015 to 76 last year was offset by a 26.7 percent decline in property crimes from 660 to 484. The numbers represent the most significant decline yet in a steady downward trend since 2012, when 842 index crimes were reported. In the 1990s and early 2000s, index crimes routinely topped 1,000 annually.


“The city is a safer place and that’s a good thing for everybody,” said Mayor Steve Noble. “It reflects a lot of hard work by our police department.”

Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti, who relies heavily on data to guide department operations, said that it was difficult, perhaps impossible to pin down a single factor in the decrease. He pointed to a series of drug sweeps between 2012 and 2014 that sent dozens of street-level drug dealers and alleged gang members to state prison. Many, he said, remain behind bars.

Tinti added that the department’s focus on community policing in recent years was starting to pay dividends in the form of greater willingness of citizens to share information with police and more tips coming in via a smartphone app that allows the public to communicate anonymously with officers.

“There’s quite a bit more public interaction when it comes to stuff that either has happened or is going to happen,” said Tinti. “The entire combination is working, the public seems to be more involved in the police department.”

In addition to crimes reported, the latest data also includes information on arrests made by police in the city. Those numbers show a significant spike in felony drug arrests in 2016. The arrests, which usually stem from the operations of the department’s Special Investigations Unit, rose from 44 in 2015 to 68 in 2016. Tinti said that the increase was brought about SIU’s renewed focus on street-level drug dealing and the violence associated with it.