Suffolk County’s crime rate continued to fall during the first half this year, officials said Thursday.
Violent crimes dropped more than 22 percent during the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year, County Executive Steve Bellone said during a news conference in Hauppauge; property crimes were down 8.2 percent.
“We are seeing historic drops in crime, making Suffolk County an even safer place to work and raise a family,” said Bellone, who was joined at the news conference by District Attorney Timothy Sini, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Stuart Cameron, chief of the county police department.
The release of the figures came the day after President Trump told supporters at a rally in Duluth, Minn., that his administration had “liberated” Long Island towns from MS-13 gang violence. Last month, the president had described some Long Island communities as occupied territories during a visit to Bethpage.
“It’s almost like an occupied territory where your children are afraid to go out,” Trump said in May, during a roundtable discussion on MS-13 that also included Hart and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
The numbers show, however, that crime in Suffolk had been on the decline since the beginning of the year and, by some measures, before that.
“We stand by our numbers,” Sini said when asked about the president’s comments. “We stand by our work. We appreciate all assistance any level of government can provide.”
There were 10 murders reported in the county from Jan. 1 through June 16, according to figures released by Suffolk police, compared to 13 during the same time period last year, a decline of more than 23 percent.
Hart said intelligence sharing with other law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration as well as a police in El Salvador and other nations, has contributed to the drop in crime.
“Intelligence sharing is key in driving down these numbers,” Hart said.
The department’s firearms suppression team, Hart added, has taken a large number of guns off the street.
The department’s gang bureau, she said, has focused on communities where MS-13 and other street gangs are most active.
“Suffolk County has not had an MS-13 murder since April 2017,” Hart said. “We have had 238 MS-13 members arrested.”
Forcible rapes dropped from 19 in the first half of 2017 to three during the same time this year, an 84.2 percent decline. Robberies decreased from 181 to 164 in 2018.
“These are lives that are being impacted,” Bellone said. “These are people who are not being victimized.”
The total of all property and violent crimes dropped from 7,855 in the first half of 2017 to 7,127 for the same period in 2018, a decline of 9.3 percent; the equivalent figure had dropped 9.5 percent the year before, county statistics show.
Crime statistics show decline in Suffolk County
Murder/manslaughter: 10 (2018) — 13 (2017)
Forcible rape: 3 (2018) — 19 (2017)
Expanded rape: 29 (2018) — 44 (2017)
Robbery: 164 (2018) — 181 (2017)
Aggravated assault: 281 (2018) — 368 (2017)
Property crime: 6640 (2018) — 7230 (2017)
– Source: Suffolk County