Kinston Police Chief: Violent crime down in 2023

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) -Keeping people safe and reducing crime is a constant mission for law enforcement, and one police department in the east says it has seen a positive turnaround over the past year.

For Kinston Police Chief Keith Goyette, keeping the city safe is a job that takes selfless commitment and dedication.

“You can’t get comfortable,” Goyette said. “You always have to look for ways to improve as an agency and community.”

It’s been a year since Goyette permanently took over as chief, but he’s wasted no time creating change.

He presented the department’s annual report for 2023 at the city council meeting Tuesday night, which highlighted a reduction in crime.

“They’re not just talking about doing something, they’re actually doing it,” said Kinston Mayor, Don Hardy. “We see the impact across our community. Crimes being solved, I can assure you that we’ve solved more than there are outstanding.”

According to the report, the number of murders dropped from 10 in 2022 to 4 in 2023 with each homicide being solved and suspects being arrested.

The report also showed a decrease in shooting victims and shooting scenes in the city as the department says it collected a total of almost four hundred guns.

“What we did a year ago is we admitted that there was an issue with Kinston, specifically violent crime with guns,” Goyette said.

Goyette says the amount of crime reduced in 2023 is a positive step but he believes the department’s programs like Cops Listening, Engaging and Responding or C.L.E.A.R, allow transparency leading to a safer community.

“When we go to our car, leaving church or a restaurant, we should be able to walk in harmony without worrying about being shot, robbed, or assaulted,” Goyette said. “Successful year in 2023 and hoping to build to have a better 2024.”

Although this year’s annual report showed a lot of progress, Goyette says the work has to continue because crime could easily increase if they don’t remain diligent.

The chief also says one thing he’d like to see improve is their officer recruitment and retention.