The Decline in Violent Crime

The Decline in Violent Crime

Published On: 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Despite the national policy discussions about violent crime and media coverage of recent domestic terror events, national and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service data show that rates of violent crime have decreased over the last decade. The violent crime trends in Mid-Hudson Valley counties follow similar national and state trends.

Between 2006 and 2016, the drop in violent crime rates in the Mid-Hudson Valley region at 24% was greater than the 17% decline in New York State (excluding New York City) and the 20% decline nationally. Dutchess and Ulster counties declines in violent crime, at 34% and 42%, respectively, were larger than the decreases in the region, state, and the nation. Orange County also experienced a lesser decline in violent crimes at 8%.

Among cities and towns in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie and New Paltz had some of the largest declines in violent crimes.  In 2006, there were 46 violent crimes reported per 10,000 residents in New Paltz, which decreased to 18 in 2016, a 60% decline.[1]  The City of Poughkeepsie experienced 139 violent crimes per capita in 2006 with a 44% decline by 2016 to 77 violent crimes per 10,000 residents. The significant declines in violent crimes in both communities are much higher than the regional, state, and national rates of decline. 

What is happening to explain the decline in crime rates in Mid-Hudson Valley and other communities in the state? 

Communities have employed several strategies and programs in recent years to address crime.  For example, since 2004, New York State has made financial investments to address crime in 17 counties that account for over 80% of crime in the state. Under the Cuomo administration, this program is administered as the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative. In order to limit violent crime, program dollars fund personnel, technical assistance, equipment, and professional development. This initiative aims to focus efforts on those who engage in gun violence, determine locations where the majority of violence is happening, create cooperation between law enforcement agencies and violence prevention efforts, and increase community involvement in reducing violence.

New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services provides technical assistance to GIVE grantees on topics including problem-oriented policing, hot spot policing, street outreach workers, and procedural justice. Problem-oriented policing uses data to determine crime patterns to determine solutions through prevention and community partnership strategies. Hot spot policing makes use of data to determine locations where crime activity is consistently occurring in order to prevent future incidents. Street outreach workers are on the ground in communities to respond to violent events and resolve conflicts that arise. Procedural justice aims to promote fairness related to law enforcement interaction with communities. Also, Office of Public Safety conference calls with GIVE stakeholders promotes collaboration between law enforcement professionals.[2]

During 2017-2018, $13 million was awarded to the targeted counties to address either gun violence or aggravated assaults. Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties were allocated $341,000, $829,000, and $220,000 respectively to share among designated police departments, District Attorney Offices, Sheriff Offices, and Probation Departments. The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department uses GIVE funds to hire additional personnel, such as analysts who map and analyze crime data to inform police patrols. This funding can also cover the costs of overtime pay to support increased police presence with foot patrols around the city, including the business district. The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department also increased its analytical capacity to conduct nuanced data analyses to identify people prone to violent behavior.[3] 

The GIVE initiative has fostered increased collaboration and sharing of intelligence between city detectives, narcotics agents, NY State Police and the FBI’s Safe Streets taskforce. The exchange of information creates increased efficiency by allowing each law enforcement group to be more focused in its investigation. The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department is working to strengthen community engagement through the implementation of procedural justice practices and implicit bias training for all supervisors.

Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Connections implements the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, a federal initiative focused on deterring elementary and middle school students from engaging in gang activity and violent crime. The program supports the development of positive relationships between students and the police and family engagement. The curriculum include topics related to role models and gang involvement.

Other towns, like New Paltz, experienced a significant decrease in violent crimes between 2006 and 2016 without GIVE dollars or access to the additional resources provided by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. Since 2008, Police Chief Joseph Synder has made community policing a departmental priority. New Paltz police officers participate in local partnerships regarding substance abuse and are involved with the county drug task force. They collaborate with the local school district and conduct community crime prevention outreach activities. The New Paltz Police also work with other law enforcement agencies including the Ulster County Sheriff and State University of New York at New Paltz Police Department to share information regarding criminal investigations and arrests.[4]

While the GIVE program and community policing are likely responsible for part of the decline in violent crime in the Mid-Hudson Valley, other factors have been identified nationally as contributors to the reduction in crime since the 1990s. There is consensus by researchers that increased consumer confidence, decreased alcohol consumption, and income growth contribute to declining crime rates.

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law looked at economic impacts, incarceration and police practices, among other factors. Specifically, it found that as positive perceptions about the economy increases, property crime declines. In contrast, increased incarceration was found to contribute to a decline in crime during the 1990s, but the effect disappeared in the 2000s. In addition, the use of COMParative STATistics (CompStat) to inform police tactical strategy had an impact on the decline in crime from 2000 to 2013. Criminal activity is deterred when CompStat data helps uncover crime patterns in order to target police resources more quickly.[5]

And this New York Times article links the prevalence of nonprofit organizations in a community with lower crime rates.[6]

For more information on violent crime rates in the Mid-Hudson Valley see the Community Profiles’ violent crimes indicator.

 

[2] Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative (GIVE) 2014 Annual Report. www.criminaljustice.ny.gov

[3] Poughkeepsie Police Department information provided by Captain Richard Wilson.

[4] Information about New Paltz provided by Lt. Lucchesi

[5] Roeder, O., Lauren-Brooke, E., & Bowling.J. (2015). What Caused The Crime Decline? Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

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