PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The number of shootings in Providence dropped significantly in 2022 compared to the year before, the final tally by the Providence Police Department shows.

There were 44 shootings total last year, according to spokesperson Lindsay Lague, compared to 81 the year before.

The shooting victims skewed male, with 35 men or boys shot, compared to nine women. The average victim’s age was 26. The youngest was Ger’Vontae Tilson, a 15-year-old West Warwick teen who was gunned down on Wallace Street in July.

Seven of the 44 shootings were fatal, causing the majority of the nine homicides in Providence last year. (The other two were a stabbing and an assault.)

The significant drop in shootings came after a concerning two years of violence during the pandemic in the capital city, which saw a reversal of the previous decade’s decline in gun crimes.

The number skyrocketed from just 35 shooting victims in 2019 to 73 people shot in 2020, then 81 in 2021. The final tally in 2022 represents a 45% drop in shootings.

In an interview Wednesday, outgoing Police Chief Hugh Clements cited multiple factors which contributed to the decrease in violence, including a record number of guns taken off the street by police.

“We’re a data-driven organization,” Clements told Target 12. “It’s sharing information, sharing intelligence, and targeting those in the community prone to not only carry a firearm illegally, but to pull a trigger.”

He said the department “shattered” the previous record for gun seizures set in 2021, taking 268 illegal firearms off the street in 2022, actions which also resulted in 244 arrests.

“There are a lot of firearms out there,” Clements said. “These are not easy arrests. Some are without incident, but many are a foot chase, a motor-vehicle short pursuit, over fences into backyards, into unlit areas.”

While police emphasize that even one murder is too many, Providence’s nine homicides in 2022 represent the first time since 1972 that the number was in the single digits.

“That’s astounding,” Clements said.

Maj. David Lapatin, the commander of the investigative division, said police have arrested suspects in eight of the nine homicides.

The chief said a recommitment to community policing and a “recalibration” in 2021 also contributed to the change. A series of new policies and memos sent to officers during the pandemic discouraged face-to-face interactions, and police were at times tasked with enforcing the city’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“There would be less human interaction during the pandemic,” Clements said. “There were less car stops, we didn’t want to engage … for health reasons.”

The community policing model includes more officers on foot and on bicycles.

Not every type of crime dropped in 2022. Property crimes were up slightly — 2% — compared to 2021, in part driven by a rise in catalytic converter thefts.

As Target 12 reported in November, instances of the previously unusual crime skyrocketed in 2021, a trend that continued in 2022. There were 633 catalytic converter thefts in Providence in 2022, compared to 387 in 2021.

Clements noted the rate of thefts slowed down in the fourth quarter of the year, potentially indicating that new state and city laws cracking down on the thefts are starting to work.

Still, most property crime is down overall compared to decades past; the department said the 148 reported robberies in 2022 was the lowest since 1990.

Clements, who is retiring from the department soon for a new job he hasn’t yet disclosed, said he has high hopes for the downward trend to continue in 2023.

“We are not a perfect department,” Clements said. “But we’re pretty damn good.”

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.