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What you need to know for 10/22/2017

Local cities report mixed results compared to FBI crime analysis

Local cities report mixed results compared to FBI crime analysis

The number of violent crimes nationally ticked upwards in 2015, while property crimes continued to d
Local cities report mixed results compared to FBI crime analysis
Schenectady Police officers and Albany Police detectives look for evidence around a stolen car behind a residence at the dead end of Grove Place on September 10, 2014.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The number of violent crimes nationally ticked upwards in 2015 after two years of decline, while property crimes continued to drop, according to an FBI analysis released Monday.

Locally, cities reported mixed results, some following the federal trends, while others did not.

In Schenectady, numbers of both appeared to be lower; however, final results are not expected until a computer reporting problem is fixed, Assistant Chief Michael Seber said.

Albany saw drops in violent crimes largely steady and saw a larger drop in property crimes, while Troy saw an increase in violent crime but a decrease in property crimes, according to the FBI numbers.

Smaller area cities showed similar movements. Gloversville, however, based on the raw numbers, saw a large relative jump in violent crimes, from 33 in 2013 to 39 in 2014 to 82 in 2015.

Gloversville Police Chief Marc Porter attributed the jump to a new type of reporting, not necessarily to a jump in individual violent crimes in his city. The new method counts multiple offenses from a single incident, rather than only the most serious offense from the incident, he said.

He suggested comparing 2016 to 2015 to see if the new reporting system levels out.

According to the FBI, nationwide, the number of violent crimes increased 3.9 percent in 2015 over 2014. The increase came after two years of declines in that stat.

Violent crimes are defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Property crimes continued to drop nationwide, according to the FBI numbers. The 2.6 percent decline marks the 13th straight year those numbers have dropped.

Property crimes are defined as burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

Individual city numbers:

--Albany reported 793 violent crimes in 2015, after 802 were reported in 2014 - about a 1.1 percent drop. Property crimes saw a steeper decline, from 3,888 to 3,211, about 17.4 percent, according to the FBI numbers.

Albany police spokesman Officer Steven Smith credited the work his department’s officers are doing in getting the numbers to historic lows. He also credited his department’s philosophy of community policing - building connections between the department and residents.

“We always have work to do, but I think we’ve made tremendous strides since implementing community policing in the city of Albany in 2010,” Smith said.

--Schenectady is still finalizing its numbers for 2015 after the computer reporting problem, making final 2015 numbers not yet available. From 2013 to 2014, however, violent crime dropped from 607 to 575, about 4.8 percent. Property crime dropped 2013 to 2014 from 2,800 to 2,518, about 10 percent.

Seber said the city is working with the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, its vendor HiTech and the Albany Police Department to fix the problem. The city contracts with Albany to oversee the system.

The city discovered the problem earlier this year after the DCJS asked the city to confirm its numbers. They discovered a change in event coding led some crimes to drop out as unfounded, rather than as founded but unsolvable. Seber said the change happened on Albany’s end and Schenectady was unaware of it.

The challenge now is to see if the numbers can be recovered through the system, rather than by hand-checking each case, Seber said.

Municipalities have until the end of 2016 to submit final 2015 numbers, the FBI said.

--Troy saw an increase in violent crime, from 350 in 2014 to 428 in 2015, about 22 percent, according to the numbers. Property crimes dropped from 2,182 to 2,013, down about 7.7 percent.

Troy police Capt. Daniel DeWolf didn’t have enough information Tuesday to talk about the 2014 to 2015 violent crime numbers, but he said 2016 is trending better.

--Saratoga Springs saw violent crime drop from 64 to 58 and property crimes drop from 590 to 547.

--Amsterdam saw violent crime tick upward from 27 to 30; it was the same with property crime, from 490 to 497.

--Gloversville had its jump in recorded violent crime from 39 to 82, but a steady drop in property crime from 677 to 624.

--Johnstown saw 11 violent crimes in 2014, compared with four in 2015. The city also saw a drop in property crime from 286 to 206.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

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