For the fifth year in a row, reported crime has dropped or remained steady in the City of Paducah.
2017 was the last year Paducah saw overall numbers rise in the various categories of crime, which range from murder and robbery to simple assault and vandalism. Of note is the fact that Paducah has continued to drop below the historic 16 percent decrease in crime seen the first year of the pandemic, 2020.
Paducah police officers completed 2,804 criminal reports in 2022, compared to 2,824 in 2021. That is a decrease of one percent, but not truly representative of the drop in “crime against persons” versus “crimes against property.”
Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and “other assaults” are considered crimes against persons. Overall, these crimes dropped by nine percent from 2021 to 2022.
Burglary, theft, auto theft, arson, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief (vandalism), etc., all are considered crimes against property. Those categories overall saw an increase of six percent, driven by increases in thefts (four percent) and criminal mischief (17 percent). The largest decreases in Part 1, or major crime, were in aggravated assault and auto theft. The Paducah Police Department investigated six homicides in 2022, three of which were domestic-related. Arrests were made in all six cases, giving the Paducah Police Department 100 percent clearance rate for homicide investigations in 2022.
“I’m extremely proud of our detectives for all their efforts in clearing all of the murder cases and bringing the offenders to justice,” said Chief of Police Brian Laird. “I hope it brings some sense of closure for the families of the victims.”
Reported robberies increased by four and burglaries remained steady, with 74 reported in each 2021 and 2022. Reported rapes fell by 27 percent, from 34 to 25. Larceny/theft accounted for the largest increase in the number of reported Part 1 crimes, going from 689 in 2021 to 717 last year. That category includes reported shoplifting offenses.
The three alcohol-related offenses saw increases in 2022 over 2021: driving under the influence (38 percent), public intoxication (30 percent) and violations of liquor laws (44 percent).
Reported drug offenses were up, in part because of a major investigation into the trafficking of fentanyl in Paducah. That investigation by the department’s Drug Unit was made public in September, when Paducah police officers and FBI agents began arresting the 23 people indicted for possessing and selling fentanyl.
Police served search warrants at five homes in connection to that investigation, resulting in the seizure of a large amount of cash and fentanyl pills. Through the investigation, detectives seized about 8,000 fentanyl pills, six handguns, two rifles and more than $242,000 cash. The average price of a fentanyl pill on the street is about $25, putting the street value of the seized pills at approximately $200,000.
Paducah saw a two percent increase in the number of collisions, from 1,791 in 2021 to 1,821 in 2022. The number of collisions involving injuries decreased and the number of fatalities dropped from five to three. There also was a significant decrease in the number of collisions involving commercial vehicles (28 percent).
“Inattention continues to be the leading cause of crashes,” Chief Laird said. “Drivers need to focus more on driving and less on distractions like cell phones.”
Chief Laird cautioned against trusting online “safest city” rankings.
“Crime statistics determined by Paducah’s population can be misleading,” he said. “Although our population is approximately 25,000, we are home to two of the largest medical centers in western Kentucky and a regional destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.”
It is estimated that Paducah’s population swells to around 100,000 during the day, and often higher during festivals and special events. As a result, our crime and collision statistics can be likened to those of a much larger city.
Additionally, Laird said, “retail theft and other property crimes are what drive our crime stats. Not violent crimes against persons.
“Our goal is to continue providing a safe environment for residents and visitors to enjoy all that Paducah has to offer.”