Crime has trended up in Peekskill during the first nine months of 2012.
But city officials say that it is far too early to determine if the spike in numbers is just a blip or an ominous sign of things to come.
Through nine months, crime this year has increased by 30 percent compared to the same point in 2011, according to a memo submitted by Lt. Eric Johansen of the Peekskill city police department. A PDF of that memo is attached to this story.
“From an overall perspective, statistics taken out of context can be misunderstood,” Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster said. “Peekskill is safe and our police force is diligently attacking quality of life infractions. While this is not dangerous crime, the numbers of arrests on infractions prevents dangerous crime from happening. So while the number of arrests increases, it reduces neighborhood concerns and improves overall safety.”
Part I crimes, which are the more serious crimes listed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, increased by 12 percent. Part I crimes include murder and nonnegligent homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson.
Part II crimes increased in the city by 39 percent. Part II crimes include offenses such as simple assault, vandalism, fraud, embezzlement, prostitution and drug offenses.
Violent crimes like rape, robbery and aggravated assault have increased by 32 percent and property crimes, like burglary and larceny, have increased by 10 percent.
“The violent crime increase can be attributed to increases in robberies in 2012 (6 in 201 1 vs. 8 in 2012) and Aggravated Assaults (14 in 2011 vs. 19 in 2012),” the memo states. “Furthermore, the 10 percent property crime increase is due primarily to the increase in incidents of shoplifting at the Stop and Shop and Walgreens stores where through the third quarter of 2011 there was seven compared with 38 thus far in 2012.”
Johansen said the police department began implementing anti-crime patrols in July and those patrols have resulted in more quality of life arrests. Police have made 94 more marijuana and 23 more controlled substance arrests at this point of the year then they made at the same time last year.
“This approach to crime prevention has historically suppressed major criminal
activity under the theory that those arrested for minor offenses are unable to commit or become victims of other criminal offenses,” the memo states.
Peekskill police Chief Eugene Tumolo said the community is much safer than it was a decade ago, when gun violence was more prevalent.
“The streets are much calmer and much safer when you ride through Peekskill,” Tumolo said. “You don’t see the loitering on the corners and it is a much safer, much more inviting environment.”
Tumolo also said many of the crimes can be prevented with more education. For instance, he said there have been a lot of theft-related crimes that were the result of people not locking their doors or securing their personal belongings in an adequate manner.
He also said some of the new businesses in the area are more proactive and effective in stopping thefts. Those arrests have also added to the crime numbers.
Tumolo said his department will continue to study the figures and respond as needed.
A list of index crimes reported to Peekskill police from 2007 to 2011 is available in the secondary photo attached to this story.