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Violent Crime in Santa Monica Jumps Almost 50 Percent to Reach Highest Level in Two Decades
By Niki Cervantes
May 14, 2018 -- Violent crime in Santa Monica jumped almost 50 percent in 2017 over the previous year, reaching its highest level in two decades, according to police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics.
Data released by the City showed a total of 705 violent crimes in Santa Monica, or 230 more incidents than the 475 reported in 2016 -- a 48 percent increase.
Behind the big jump in violent crimes was a rocketing number of aggravated assaults, the City’s data showed. Those crimes increased 67 percent, from 244 incidents in 2016 to 407 reported occurrences last year.
Last year also marked the third year in a row of increases in violent crime, which also includes robbery (up 28 percent from 2016, or 241 incidents), rape (up from 40 in 2016 to 57 in 2017) and homicide (one incident in 2016 and two in 2017).
FBI statics regarding Santa Monica show 2017’s total in violent crime edging up to the 835 such crimes committed in 1997 -- the tail end of a national era of soaring rates of homicide and drug violence (believed to have been related to the crack cocaine epidemic).
Combined, total crime in the city rose 12.5 percent in 2017, the City’s statistics show. They are available in the May issue of the City’s “Seascape” newsletter, which is both distributed and available online at www.smgov.net.
Earlier years of uniform crime reports can be found at www.fbi.gov.
The City formally installed a new police chief, former Folsom Police Chief Cynthia Renaud, last week ("Santa Monica Taps Highly Touted Folsom Police Chief for Top Post," March 13, 2018).
The appointment of the highly regarded chief comes at a time when Santa Monica’s neighborhood groups and activists are growing more outspoken about the City’s response to the crime issue -- especially after a recent series of home invasions and shootings.
City officials consider the increased crime since 2015 a spike, and stress that the current total is closer to the levels of the 1960s, although violent crime is becoming a larger part of the picture.
As with law enforcement throughout California, Santa Monica police blame much the rise in crime on two statewide measures approved by voters over the past four years.
Proposition 47 in 2014 reduced “nonviolent and nonserious” crimes to misdemeanors as the state struggled with overcrowded prisons. Proposition 57, passed in 2016, expanded parole opportunities for some felons.
An analysis by the Lookout found that Santa Monica's most violent crimes were committed by repeat offenders ("Suspects in Santa Monica's Most Violent Crimes Were Repeat Offenders," March 13, 2018).
Prosecutors are backing a proposed initiative -- Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018 -- which would increase supervision of parolees, increase the role of the courts regarding parole violators and eliminate early release for such violent crimes as rape of an unconscious person and assault on a police officer.
The city’s increasing homeless population -- 957 people -- is also believed to be related to some crime. The police force averages about 330 calls for service every day, thirty percent of which are homeless-related, officials have said.
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