Drop in local crime mirrors state trend

Local crime statistics followed figures statewide in the first six months of 2011, recording reducti

Local crime statistics followed figures statewide in the first six months of 2011, recording reductions in both violent and property crimes, according to new numbers out Monday.

Crime statewide dropped 4.4 percent. Outside New York City, those numbers were even better, with reductions of 7.4 percent in categories that included murder, rape, burglary and larceny.

Locally, only Schoharie County, with its already low overall crime numbers, saw an increase of such crimes, from 171 during the previous six-month period to 189 during the recent six-month period.

Schenectady County saw a decrease from 2,580 to 2,331, a drop of 9.7 percent. Saratoga County saw a decrease from 1,470 to 1,290, or 12.2 percent.

Overall reported crime in the state is at its lowest point in decades, state Division of Criminal Justice Services officials said. The division released the numbers Monday.

“These trends are the direct result of the work done by law enforcement, day in and day out, in communities large and small, across New York State,” division acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne said in a statement. “As a whole, the state is safer today than it has been in more than three decades.

Schenectady Police Chief Mark Chaires noted the improved numbers in his city, saying he believes they are the result of several initiatives in the department to lower crimes, including robbery, through directed patrolling based on crime statistics.

The department is also getting assistance through its Operation IMPACT partners in probation and parole departments.

The number of violent crimes in the county dropped from year-to-year 8.4 percent; robberies decreased 14.5 percent. Property crimes dropped nearly 10 percent, with much of that coming in a 14 percent drop in larcenies.

The city of Schenectady saw a 5.3 percent overall decrease, with an 8.2 percent decrease in violent crimes and a 4.7 percent decrease in property crimes. Robberies dropped from 110 to 97, a decrease of 11.8 percent.

Chaires also said he sees positive effects continuing from the May sweep of alleged Four Block Gang members, accused in drug dealing and shootings. In that case, 44 individuals were indicted, many of them from Schenectady.

But the chief also saw room for improvement. He noted that aggravated assaults in the county were essentially flat, going from 202 to 203. Chaires said many of those stem from domestic violence cases, a more difficult problem to get at.

The other area in need of improvement was burglaries, going from 458 to 464, an increase of 1.3 percent.

Those crimes are generally perpetrated by juveniles and the addict population, Chaires said. Chaires said the department is working with a truancy project to keep those juveniles in school.

Keeping them in school, Chaires said, helps current crime numbers, but also future numbers.

“We want to really drive that rate down significantly, but obviously, we still have our work cut out for us,” Chaires said.

The first six months of 2011 are also being compared to a 2010 year that saw an increase from the previous year of 2009. Schenectady County saw an overall increase that full year of 3.2 percent, while Saratoga County saw an increase from 2009 to 2010 of 10.7 percent.

The numbers locally and statewide are also following a national trend of lower crime rates, according to FBI numbers released Monday.

Violent crime dropped 6 percent in 2010, marking the fourth straight year of year-to-year declines, while property crime was down for the eighth straight year, falling 2.7 percent, the FBI reported.

Nationwide, there were an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes in 2010 and an estimated 9 million property crimes.

An aging population and continued high rates of imprisonment for criminals are helping to drive down crime rates, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University.

Robbery fell 10 percent, rape dropped 5 percent, and murder, non-negligent manslaughter and aggravated assault fell more than 4 percent.

Each category of property crime offenses decreased nationwide in 2010. The largest decline, 7.4 percent, was for motor vehicle thefts. Burglaries decreased 2 percent and larceny-thefts declined 2.4 percent.

Categories: Schenectady County

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