East Hampton A Safer Place, Report Indicates

Independent/Riverhead Police Department

Continuing a trend first reported in October, reported crime, and arrests of all kinds, were down significantly in the Town of East Hampton in 2018, according to the annual report released recently by East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo.

In the category classified as events, once called by the department “complaints,” the total number logged in was 1926 less than in 2017, dropping from 20,005 to 18,079, or just under 10 percent. It is the lowest number since 2013. Arrests were down an even higher percentage, 16.5 percent, with the total dropping from 970 to 809. It is the lowest number of arrests by the department since 2015’s 672.

Arrests on driving while intoxicated charges came in at least a 14-year low: the 140 recorded by town police is one less than the 141 racked up in 2004, which is as far back as The Independent’s records go. In 2017, there were 214 DWI-charged arrests.

In October, Chief Sarlo commented on that decrease, citing as a possible reason, in part, the growth of rider share services in East Hampton Town.

One figure that, unfortunately, stayed flat from 2017 was the number of drug overdose cases in East Hampton. There were 10 overdoses recorded, with three being fatal.

The chief reported that town police continue to train in the use of NARCAN to reverse overdoses.

If there was less crime in East Hampton for officers to battle, they were still busy on the roads: parking summonses were up to 8382, a 23 percent increase for the town.

The number of domestic violence reports, at 265, exceeded the number of such reports over each of the past two years, and matched the 265 from 2015.

Another number that dropped significantly in the past year is the number of vehicular accidents, down from 954 to 878, the lowest since 2013. That number begs the question, are the roads safer, or are they simply less travelled?

The decrease in crime is across the board, reflecting fewer reports. Complaints of burglary, larceny, and criminal mischief, all of which are either misdemeanors or felonies, as well as harassment, which can be charged as a crime or as a simple violation, have all been dropping over the past few years in East Hampton. There were 25 complaints of burglary last year, for example. There were 36 in 2017, 40 in 2016, and 55 in 2015. The other categories mimic those numbers, percentage wise.

Another welcomed decrease is in the number of noise complaints called into the police in the town. The total number of residential and commercial noise complaints was at 613, a major drop from the 728 from 2017, and almost half of the 1132 noise complaints registered in 2015.

Chief Sarlo listed four objectives for 2019 for the department in the report, which he will be sharing with the East Hampton Town Board in an upcoming session. The chief cites the drop in DWI arrests, saying the department “must remain focused on deterring citizens from drinking or taking drugs, then driving.”

The other three objectives for the year include expanding the police presence in the town’s schools, increasing community outreach concerning the national epidemic of opioid use, and completing the town-wide radio system emergency communications upgrade.

The number of complaints or incidents recorded by the department had been rising steadily over the years, cresting at 2017’s 20,005, perhaps reflecting the growing summer nightlife in the town over that period. The decrease in 2018 may augur well for a slightly more peaceful summer season in 2019.

The decrease in crime in East Hampton is consistent with a like decrease across the East End, and across the nation, according to FBI statistics.

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