Kettering crime drop may be end of a trend involving guns, drugs

The number of prisoners booked by the Kettering Police Department fell from 1,997 in 2018 to 1,442 last year, records show. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
The number of prisoners booked by the Kettering Police Department fell from 1,997 in 2018 to 1,442 last year, records show. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

City sees criminal activity decrease in multiple categories, but not violent offenses.

KETTERING - Police say proactive patrols and a tailing off of drug addiction are likely linked to a drop in reported crimes in the city last year.

Kettering residents in 2019 registered fewer calls for service while recorded criminal activity sank in more than a dozen categories used annually in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, city documents show.

Kettering police’s visibility helped lead last year to dramatic decreases in illegal weapons - mostly handguns - and narcotics offenses, key factors in the overall drop in crime that included declines in OVIs, speeding tickets issued, arrests, robberies, burglaries and arson, said Officer Joe Ferrell, the department’s public information officer.

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“If we’re seen out in neighborhoods, that could have an impact on crimes being committed. And if there’s less crime being committed then we have (fewer) calls,” he said.

“The fact that you see our weapons, robbery, narcotics down (and) are speeding down…..I think that’s probably partly because in prior years a lot of our weapons and narcotics – and obviously speeding – all took place from traffic stops,” Ferrell added.

Violent crime was among the few categories which showed an increase from 2018 to last year, rising from 51 to 55 offenses, Kettering records show. Homicides went from zero to one and forcible rapes jumped from 19 to 26.

But narcotics offenses went from 1,140 in 2018 to 739 last year while weapons offenses dropped from 102 to 51 in the same time, according to the KPD’s annual report.

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Even higher numbers were reported for those same categories in Kettering during 2017. That year 1,388 narcotics offenses occurred in Montgomery County’s most populated suburb while weapons offenses totaled 114, city documents show.

Kettering’s drop in reported crimes came after “amazing progress” was made in the decrease of drug overdose deaths, according to Montgomery County Alcohol Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services documents.

A 49% decline in overdose deaths occurred in 2018 compared to the previous year, county ADAMS records show, when the Dayton area was considered by many as the national focal point of the heroin and fentanyl epidemic.

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Kettering’s 2018 crime activity totals were rooted in an effort that began a few years earlier, when the KPD hired several new, young officers that were part of a stepped-up, proactive patrol, Ferrell said.

Starting about 2015, officers commonly confiscated narcotics and illegal weapons during routine traffic stops, he said.

“We were taking weapons out of cars nightly,” Ferrell said. “Some of that, I think, was because people were carrying heroin for their own personal use and they worried about getting ripped off.

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“So they were also carrying a weapon for their own personal protection,” he added. “But I was just amazed at the number of weapons that we were taking out of cars on traffic stops – and they also had drugs in the car.”

KETTERING CRIME

ACTIVITY 2018 2019

•Calls for service 60,348 54,079

•Traffic citations 5,927 3,732

•Criminal reports 4,307 3,878

•Prisoners booked 1,997 1,442

•Traffic accidents 1,098 932

•Violent crimes 51 55

•OVI 188 156

•Speeding 1,381 605

•Vandalism 206 151

•Weapons 102 51

•Property damage 957 838

SOURCE: Kettering Police Department