Violent crime is down on Long Island this year -- mirroring a trend across the Northeast -- according to the latest statistics compiled by New York State.
Through April 30, murders, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults -- the categories that constitute violent crime -- taken together have fallen to 476 in Suffolk County Police Department jurisdictions compared with 586 during the same period last year, according to records kept by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The data do not include crimes committed in May or June, including three fatal shootings that occurred in Central Islip.
In areas patrolled by the Nassau County Police Department through April 25, violent crimes dropped from 344 to 333 compared with the same period last year, state records show, even though rapes and murders rose slightly.
"It's a good sign," Eli Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said of the Islandwide decrease in violent crime. "But we shouldn't go overboard and draw very large conclusions from a few months' worth of numbers."
Many smaller departments, including Village of Hempstead police, have also seen decreases in violent crime this year. The village saw such crimes fall to 84 through April 5, compared with 113 during the same period last year -- a decrease of nearly 26 percent.
Property crimes, comprising burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts, also are down in areas covered by county police forces, falling 9 percent in Nassau, from 3,112 to 2,831, through April 25, and 10 percent in Suffolk, from 7,002 to 6,283, though April 30.
Police alter strategy
Intelligence-led policing in both counties, officials said, has been a key to the recent decrease.
"We've really changed the way the department does business," said James Burke, chief of department for Suffolk County police.
The violent-crime decline so far this year in areas patrolled by Suffolk County police continues a trend that began in 2010, when 2,377 such crimes were reported. In 2012, that number had fallen to 2,129.
Overall crime -- both violent and property crimes -- also fell both in Suffolk police jurisdictions and countywide.
But in Nassau, while there has been a drop so far this year, serious crime actually was on the upswing in 2012 when compared with 2011.
Violent crime rose 12 percent in areas patrolled by the Nassau County Police Department and 10 percent countywide compared with 2011, the state records show.
The combined number of violent and property crimes in Nassau County police jurisdictions alone also rose slightly from 14,771 in 2011 to 14,941 in 2012, the records show.
In Nassau County as a whole, the combined number of violent and property crimes increased from 19,373 in 2011 to 19,468 in 2012.
Violent crime is just one portion of the overall crime picture, but police consider it a leading indicator of public safety both locally and nationally.
Identifying crime patterns
The intelligence-led policing increasingly used by departments involves quickly identifying crime patterns and trends, analyzing data to predict which offenders are most likely to commit crimes again and where they are most likely to strike.
It relies heavily on human intelligence and state-of-the-art technology to collect, analyze and rapidly distribute intelligence to officers in the field.
Such policing -- which grew more popular after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- emphasizes information sharing among multiple law enforcement agencies as part of an effort to identify larger, regional trends.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he attributed the drop in crime in 2013 to "our bedrock philosophy of service to the community, intelligence-led policing and predictive analysis."
Nationwide, violent crime rose 1.2 percent and property crimes decreased 0.08 percent in 2012 compared with 2011, according to preliminary federal Uniform Crime Reporting statistics for 2012.
The lower numbers on Long Island, however, are part of a regional trend. The Northeast was the only section of the country in which all categories of violent crime showed decreases, the national statistics show. Murder fell 4.4 percent, rapes fell 0.2 percent, robberies fell 1.4 percent and aggravated assaults fell 0.1 percent.
The national and state data include only the number of violent and property crimes reported by law enforcement agencies. The statistics do not consider crimes that were not reported to authorities or certain types of misdemeanors, like loitering and disorderly conduct.
Other agencies' statistics
Comparing the 2012 and 2011 New York State statistics for several other law enforcement agencies revealed:
A 20 percent increase in violent crime in the Village of Freeport, where local police investigated 209 violent crimes as compared with 174 in 2011.
Hempstead Village police saw violent crime rise nearly 6 percent in their jurisdiction, from 439 to 464. Property crime dropped more than 5 percent, with burglaries falling from 1,049 in 2011 to 992 last year.
The combined number of violent crimes and property crimes in the City of Long Beach rose 14 percent last year, to 360, compared with 315 in 2011.
In Rockville Centre Village, the number of violent crimes increased 60 percent, from 20 in 2011 to 32 last year, thanks mainly to a large jump in assaults.
An 18 percent increase in property crime in Amityville, where village police reported 200 such crimes compared with 169 in 2011.
East Hampton Town police reported a 23 percent increase in property crime, from 338 in 2011 to 417 last year.
Property crime more than tripled in Nissequogue Village, with police reporting 36 incidents in 2012 compared with 10 in 2011.
Ocean Beach Village police saw the number of property crimes more than cut in half, from 27 to 13.
Property crime in Shelter Island fell from 84 in 2011 to 53 last year -- a 37 percent decrease.
The Town of Southampton saw a 27 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes, from 88 in 2011 to 64 last year. Property crime rose 4 percent, from 968 in 2011 to 1,005 last year.
Property crime fell 18 percent in Southampton village, from 146 in 2011 to 120 last year.