SCHENECTADY — Schenectady saw reductions in both violent crimes and property crimes in 2017, according to preliminary numbers released this month.
Schenectady saw 576 violent crimes in 2017, compared with 600 in 2016. That is a 4 percent drop year-to-year, the report said. The only recent year with fewer reported violent crimes was 2014, when 549 were recorded. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
"It's nice to see that, in most cases, we went down from last year and the five-year average," said Police Chief Eric Clifford on Thursday. "That means we're headed in the right direction."
He said several initiatives contributed to the drop but added: "We still have more work to do, I think."
Property crimes numbered 2,057 for Schenectady in 2017, compared with 2,106 in 2016, a 2.3 percent drop. The only recent better year was 2015, when 2,038 property crimes were recorded. Property crimes include burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.
The drop in violent crime for Schenectady is on par with a statewide trend, outside New York City, where a 3.6 percent drop was reported. Statewide, property crimes dropped by 5.7 percent, a faster pace than Schenectady's 2.3 percent drop.
Albany's violent crime numbers in 2017 went up 3.2 percent, from 849 in 2016 to 876 in 2017, while property crimes dropped by 2.2 percent.
The numbers are collected as part of the state's Gun Involved Violence Elimination grant, which covers 17 counties. That program's next annual grant awards should be announced soon.
Schenectady saw a low point last year for the most serious violent crime. Two murders were recorded for the year, with one being firearm related. The next-best year since 2008 saw four murders -- in 2011. The city recorded seven murders in 2016.
Clifford noted the department continues its data-driven approach to policing, using various data points to focus resources around the city, as well as a focus on investigating gun-related crimes. He also cited redevelopment projects, like the Joe Allen Apartments on Albany Street and the rebuilt Stewart's at Albany and Brandywine, as changing the environment.
There are other factors too, Clifford said.
"I'd be remiss if I didn't say that the community at large appears to be more attuned with helping us to keep crime down," Clifford said.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney cited efforts to address gang violence, as well as efforts to get the message out to others that gun crimes come with serious consequences.
The 2016 numbers included crimes committed early that year by the Ku Gang, which authorities disrupted through a series of arrests and prosecutions. The 2017 numbers were the first full year after those efforts.
"I hope those things have had a positive impact," Carney said. "It's certainly been a better year than a lot of them in the past."