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.
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.”