KINSTON, LENOIR COUNTY -

With at least 26 reported shootings since January, the Kinston Public Safety Department Director Bill Johnson tells NewsChannel 12 crime rates are higher than last year. However, he said they're doing what they can to fight back.

Director Johnson said while there has been an increase in violence, he said the community doesn't need to worry too much. He said these crimes are happening in specific spots of the city and they're increasing their patrols in those areas.

Director Johnson said this month the department formed a six member gang unit to cover crime ridden areas more closely.

Gang unit Supervisor Sgt. Stephen Reavis said most of the recent shootings and crimes are gang related. He said there are about 25 active gangs in Kinston.

Director Johnson said they’ve made at least 34 arrests, served 16 warrants, and confiscated 10 guns this month.  Only 25 percent of shooting incidents in Kinston this year have been solved. Chief Johnson said it’s partly due to victims not cooperating, which he hopes will change.

Chief Johnson said he encourages residents to always call their department whenever they hear anything suspicious. He said KPSD has an anonymous tip line people can call. That number is 252-939-4020.