Violent crime down in the City of SLO, while thefts from vehicles increases
Police Chief outlines year-end crime stats in presentation to council
CONTACT: Deanna Cantrell, Police Chief, (805) 781-7256, firstname.lastname@example.org
Violent crime was down seven percent in the City last year, said Police Chief Deanna Cantrell. But property crime – particularly thefts– remains a challenge for the department and the community.
During a presentation to the Council last week, Cantrell discussed some of the public awareness efforts and policing strategies the department has used to combat crime, which has increased 11-percent over last year, reflecting a statewide trend. While crime rose, the rate of growth slowed from the previous year, when crime increased by 21 percent.
The first quarter of 2016 began poorly, with overall crime up by 45 percent compared to the first quarter of the previous year. The department quickly began an effective education campaign that used community meetings, traditional media and social media to help raise awareness. Meanwhile, the department also launched data-driven policing strategies, use of cameras, bait property and specialty units throughout the City. As a result, the crime rate of growth was dramatically reduced to 11 percent by the end of 2016.
In violent crime, there were no murders reported in 2016, 38 rapes, 21 robberies and 118 aggravated assaults. The most common property crime was theft from vehicles, with 673 reported thefts. Cantrell said the increase in thefts from cars – up 52 percent over the prior year – reflects in part, a cultural issue in the City, with people failing to lock their doors and remove items of value due to a false sense of security.
Cantrell said the increase in overall crime locally and statewide can be partially attributed to Proposition 47, which reduced certain drug possession felonies and some thefts under $950 from felonies to misdemeanors. Adults placed on misdemeanor probation rose 44 percent, and misdemeanor probation carries little or no supervision. Cantrell said rehabilitation efforts without consequences for lack of cooperation fail and translate directly to more crime, particularly property crime.
The department is also currently facing a staffing shortage, Cantrell said, due to retirements, terminations and injuries. Because general patrol duties take precedence, some special assignments teams that work on prevention and outreach programs had to be shifted.