KINGSPORT — The Model City saw a drop in violent and nonviolent crime in 2012 compared to the previous year, with aggravated assaults, burglaries and forgeries seeing significant declines in the number of occurrences.
Overall, police officials say 2012 was a good year.
“Kingsport is a safe place,” said Interim Police Chief David Quillin.
The Kingsport Police Department recently issued its 2012 yearly report, which gives a breakdown on the number of violent and nonviolent offenses that took place last year, the previous five years, and how those numbers have changed. The report also gives an overview of the department, the highlights and major accomplishments from the previous year along with awards, promotions and new hires.
According to the report, the number of aggravated assaults dropped from 341 in 2011 to 274 in 2012; robbery went from 62 to 50; two murders took place (compared to three in 2011), while the number of rapes rose from 21 to 26.
In a letter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Deputy Chief Dale Phipps points out the vast majority of aggravated assaults involve some type of known relationship. Specifically, over a three-year period only 7.5 percent of aggravated assaults involved strangers
Nonviolent crime saw a decline as well last year: larceny incidents went from 2,556 in 2011 to 2,385 in 2012; burglaries dropped from 557 to 417 while auto thefts dipped from 139 to 135.
KPD’s clearance rate for crimes in 2012 stood at 37.6 percent, which is more than the national average, but less than the 40.8 percent clearance rate in 2011. Phipps explained that clearance rates are fluid, change as the year goes on and crimes may not be cleared until years later.
Other notable crimes varied from year to year. Prostitution charges went from 14 to 4; kidnapping charges rose one from 19 to 20; intimidation charges declined from 113 to 99; the number of drug charges went from 734 to 708 and for the second year in a row, no gambling charges were placed by Kingsport’s officers last year.
Quillin said for the most part, violent and nonviolent crime in Kingsport stays within a certain range over the years. As an example, over the past six years the number of murders have ranged from one to four, while larceny has ranged from just over 2,000 to just over 2,500.
Regardless, total offenses that took place in the Model City are down from the previous year. In 2012 that number was 7,557; in 2011 the number was 8,365.
“We’ve tried to utilize our crime analysis and identify areas that have the highest percentage of calls, looking at the days of the week and time of day when things are occurring,” Quillin said. “Through grant money we’re able to schedule overtime in those specific areas and I’m hoping an increased presence will make a difference.
“Maybe that’s one reason why we’re seeing a decrease. We’ve got dedicated officers in specific places at specific times and our hope is it’s becoming a deterrent.”
In addition to the crime statistics, the annual police report some of the department’s more innovative programs, most notably its response to the synthetic marijuana problem over the past two years. The report points out that through law enforcement and undercover operations, the passage of new laws and public education, numerous “head shops” were shut down and synthetic drug-related incidents were significantly reduced.
According to the report, 1,274 pounds of unused, unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs were deposited in the department’s drug drop zone; the KPD community relations unit conducted 309 public education programs during the year and officers conducted almost 1.000 school walkthroughs over the past five months in light of recent school shootings.