The KPD recently released its yearly report for 2015 that includes a brief history of the department; an overview of the various divisions within the agency; and statistics on crime, traffic crashes, arrests, response times and promotions that occurred during the previous year.
KPD Chief David Quillin said overall 2015 was a good year for the city and the department.
“I don’t know if there was anything glaring (in the report). We were pleased with the continued drop in traffic fatalities,” Quillin said. “The last couple of years, we’ve seen somewhat of a downward trend in fatalities. One is too many but I’m certainly glad to see a decline in those.”
Kingsport officers responded to 4,004 traffic crashes in 2015 with 578 resulting in injuries, up from the previous year’s 3,506 crashes with 509 causing injuries. Five traffic fatalities occurred in 2015, down from 10 in 2014 and the unusually high number of 14 in 2013.
“We’re a city of over 50,000 people with a daytime population in the 70,000s. Traffic collisions are going to occur,” Quillin said. “But we want to do all we can to prevent the serious type of accidents.”
According to the report, the KPD received 62,254 calls for service in 2015, down from 64,206 in 2014. As a result of those calls and investigations, 4,342 adults and juveniles were either arrested or issued a misdemeanor citation. In 2014, the total number of adults and juveniles arrested or cited was 4,686.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen a decrease in overall calls for service. It’s hard to say for one year if that is a downward trend. It may be an anomaly,” Quillin said. “I guess we’d like to believe our efforts are paying off and the citizens of Kingsport don’t necessarily need the police as much as they did the year before, but we’ll just have to see if that’s a continued trend next year.”
The Criminal Investigation Division handled 2,694 cases last year — three fewer than in 2014. Those investigations yielded a clearance rate of 77 percent — a 2 percent increase over the previous year.
School resource officers at Dobyns-Bennett High School investigated 37 incidents, while those at Sevier and Robinson middle schools investigated 27 and 11 incidents respectively.
Incidents involving public intoxication, drug and liquor violations all saw a drop from 2014 to 2015, while DUIs and weapons violations rose slightly. Crimes against children were a mixed bag: child abuse and neglect dropped from 79 incidents to 77 while child sex abuse cases rose from 24 to 32.
Aggravated assault and larceny reports dropped from year to year, while the number of cases of rape, robbery, burglary and auto theft rose. Six homicides took place in 2015, compared to two the year before.
“When you look at previous years, I think it’s an anomaly,” Quillin said. “In each of those (homicides), there was some type of relationship between the suspect and the victim and not a random stranger crime. Those are pretty rare in Kingsport.”
Last year, KPD’s Vice Division seized more than $270,000 worth of drugs and $86,000 in cash, placing 313 felony drug charges. Quillin said the No. 1 drug problem in Kingsport is prescription pain pills.
“We still see some meth, marijuana and cocaine, very few synthetic drugs. Other areas are seeing a rise in heroin use, and we’ve seen a little bit of that. But if you ask any chief or sheriff, prescription pain pills is one of the top problems they face,” Quillin said. “I don’t think anyone intends to be addicted to pain pills, and these are drugs prescribed by licensed physicians for legitimate purposes. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to those.”
Traffic light cameras have been in place for a decade in the Model City and are now located at 10 intersections.
Last year, the cameras captured 21,548 violations, but with plate obstructions, sun glare and the weather eliminating more than 9,100 incidents from consideration, only 12,404 citations were issued to motorists.
In 2014, 17,146 violations were captured by the cameras, with 9,519 citations issued.
Response times by the KPD are broken down into three categories: emergency, urgent and routine. The emergency response time improved in 2015, going from 5:08 to 5:05; urgent response times rose from 5:54 to 6:17, while the response time for routine calls jumped from 5:07 to 8:24.
According to the report, the KPD employs 119 sworn officers, eight corrections officers, 23 communications personnel, five clerks and 15 civilians.