In Kingston, shootings are down, but anxiety is up

There have been no new shooting incidents in Kingston since a local collaboration with state and county authorities was announced early last month. Increased numbers of police on the streets does reduce violent crime, but it can also escalate tensions among people who are fearful of police interactions. Chief Egidio Tinti has announced some of the statistics from the past month since the effort was launched. A police commission meeting on September 9 will allow residents to share their concerns.

Since August 6, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and city officers have racked up 232 traffic stops resulting in 144 traffic tickets, 13 field interviews, nine charges of driving while intoxicated, 34 gun- or drug-related arrests, and seven arrests on outstanding warrants.

The chief said that recovered weapons have been sent to a laboratory to determine whether they are connected to any of the shootings over the summer, but results have not yet been returned. 

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Tinti’s statement directly addressed arrest anxiety: “We understand that there has been some concerns raised by community members regarding the increased police presence as a result of the recent gun violence. We are trying to balance the proactive patrols with those concerns. Some community members have expressed anxiety about being stopped by police. Officers are aware of the anxiety that a person may experience when they see the patrol car lights or hear the siren behind them. If you do get pulled over, we encourage you to follow these suggestions from the ACLU’s website: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/stopped-by-police/.”

An outreach coordinator from the state police is working with community leaders “to provide information about the efforts and address any worries they may have” as part of this multi-tiered effort, which also involves additional investigators working behind the scenes to solve past crimes.

“A lot of community relations is an open dialogue,” said Tinti. The most common questions the chief gets is why a particular person is stopped at a particular time. There must be probable cause for a traffic stop, which might be as simple as the failure to signal. Drivers observed breaking a traffic law can usually be pulled over, and that gives officers the opportunity to notice evidence of issues like intoxication and to check the driver’s history for outstanding warrants or other reasons to search the car without consent.

Tinti acknowledged that this partnership would be temporary. With the conversation often focusing on de-funding rather than enhancing funding of police, the chief observed that police were the mechanism in place to help reduce the violence. “Until there’s a different one, that’s where we’re at,” he said. “This style of policing helps people recognize that their behavior is unnecessary” when they choose “not to abide by social standards.”

There are 2 comments

  1. Empathy Is Key

    The unfortunate reality is that first and foremost we have to lower, stop, and keep shootings down — preferably to zero. Not only are the shootings detremental to the very communities that are concerned, but they drag the entire city down in all aspects from perceptions of safety, to image capable of bringing new business and residents here, which ultimately can lift everyone up through economic stability and growth.

    In tandem, right now is the moment for the community to be heard, and for those increased patrols to start to model a positive example. We can do this right here. Let the community speak, then respond in-kind with smart, effective ideas that are also flexible and capable of changing with the times.

    Police (and their unions) need to stop digging in. The way they police right now does not work. It is a violent mentality that only breeds more violence. Does that mean police are “bad”? Absolutely not. People forget that every time an officer walks out the door they might not come home. 100% equal is the reality that every time a black person walks out the door, they might not come home. That is the great equalizer.

    So let’s DO SOMETHING WITH IT TO MAKE IT BETTER.

    The assumption that a black person is a criminal because of how they dress, where they live, or the color of their skin is not right.

    The assumption that a police officer is a bad person is not right.

    We have got to stop the insanity. Stop listening to racist leadership in the White House. Stop killing innocent men. And those men in communities of color have got to stop dealing. Stop carrying weapons. Stop gang
    activity. We have got to come together. Absolutely, there is systemic racism at play, but there is also a behavior in the community that begs the question — If you are going to shoot up your neighborhood are you a victim? Or are you an equal part of the problem? Responsibility is responsibility and if we treat each other with respect, empathy, and slow down and listen we can change the pattern. That is the truth, it is unpopular, but go ask the moms of dead sons in cities and towns across America, many of them say that the community holds much of the responsibility for the violence that plays out in the streets and on the playgrounds. Now, we just need to get the police to admit as much and then we can say, OK, let’s work together to fix this. It can be done.

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