Serious crime rates in Kentucky dropped overall in 2022, new report shows


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Overall serious crime rates fell across Kentucky in 2022, with double-digit declines in reports of homicides, robberies and drug offenses, a new law enforcement report showed Wednesday.

Among 23 categories deemed as serious or violent crimes, overall reports of offenses decreased by nearly 10% in 2022 compared to the prior year while arrests declined 6.2%, according to the report from the Kentucky State Police. Arrests fell in 16 categories while reported crimes declined in 18 categories.

“Today’s report is encouraging news that we are moving in the right direction when it comes to fighting crime across the commonwealth,” Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said.

Beshear, who is seeking reelection to a second term this year, acknowledged that declining crime rates don’t necessarily reflect public perceptions about the prevalence of crime. The governor lost one of his closest friends when a gunman opened fire at a bank building in downtown Louisville in April.

“It’s not enough that overall serious crime has gone down,” he said at a news conference. “People need to feel safe, too. That perception is important. And that means we have to continue to do more every day.”

Combating crime has emerged as a crucial issue in Kentucky’s gubernatorial campaign between Beshear and Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, the state’s attorney general. Cameron recently released a sweeping plan that includes awarding recruitment and retention bonuses to bolster police forces.

Beshear, a former attorney general, has touted his crime-fighting record, noting he pushed for large pay raises for state troopers as well as increased training for police officers.

The governor on Wednesday praised law enforcement agencies statewide for their roles in helping drive down overall serious crime rates. The new report showed a nearly 7% drop in statewide homicide arrests and a 33% decrease in reported homicides. Reports of drug and narcotic offenses fell more than 13% while arrests dropped by about 12%. Reported robberies fell 16% and arrests were down nearly 6%.

The only serious crimes that increased from 2021 to 2022 in both reported offenses and arrests were animal cruelty, bribery, and extortion.

The information was pulled from the National Incident-Based Reporting System — the standard reporting system for the FBI — and includes reports from 98% of Kentucky’s law enforcement entities including all major county and city law enforcement offices, the governor’s office said.

Despite the drop in serious crime rates, there’s “still work to be done,” said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. He also credited the work of law enforcement for the decline.

Meanwhile, the governor and the state police commissioner highlighted another step aimed at bolstering public safety — the launch of a cloud-based, computer-aided 911 dispatch system for the entire state.

It gives state police dispatchers the enhanced ability to respond to 911 calls and non-emergency calls by communicating with a caller via text message and using specific location technology.

The new service allows callers to dial 911 and then a text can be initiated by the dispatcher if the caller is unable to speak or needs to be quiet to remain safe. Once the caller accepts the request sent via text to share their location, state police can access the person’s real-time latitude and longitude coordinates from their device, allowing first responders to arrive quicker.

The decline in crime rates follows reports showing progress in reducing overdose deaths and putting ex-prisoners on a path toward productive lives and away from committing new crimes. Beshear recently announced that Kentucky’s overdose deaths in 2022 fell by more than 5% from the prior year — the first statewide decline since 2018 — while he said the state’s recidivism rate has dropped to a record-low level.