Crime Rates Continue to Drop in San Diego

Feb 15, 2017 (San Diego) The information coming out from San Diego Police will be counter-intuitive to many. We live in a world where the news media continues to report on crimes, but the actual crime rate continues to drop. San Diego Police released the data for the 2016 year and we are going to share it with you, the reader. It is important to understand two things. The use of body-worn cameras has helped to keep everybody safe, but chiefly, violent crime rates are the second lowest in 45 years.

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So what is the violent crime rate? In 2006 for comparison it was 4.9 per 1000 residents. This year it is at 3.8, after a short spike in 2015 to 4.1. The spike in 2015 matched national trends as well. This drop is significant since it is even lower than it was in 2011, which was the lowest until now, at 3.9.

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Then there is the total index, which captures both violent and nonviolent crime. According to the data released by the department, in 2006 it stood at 39.4 per 1,000. In 2016 it is down to 24.4, with a similar spike in 2015 that matched national trends, that brought it to 25.4. However, the lowest point for that statistic was not 2011, but 2014. The number t that point was 23.8, still slightly lower than the current number.

This is the second lowest number in 45 years.

These numbers, however, are matching national trends that started in 1992, when the crime rate hit its peak. We did not even see a spike at the height of the Great Recession, which usually is expected. Crime has maintained a downward trend since it hit its high point.

Body Worn Cameras

There was a second part to the release of the data. The body worn camera program has had its hiccups when it was implemented. The data that the department has released reveals that the cameras are reducing the use of force by officers, and also of civilian complaints. Whether it is because civilians realize they are on camera, and it has changed behavior, or whether it has naturally reduced this is still an open question.

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The police received 1,426,796 calls for service, Of those, there were 520,296 active incidents. According to the police data, they saw a reduction in the use of force. Less than one percent of the incidents saw that use of force, The exact number was 4,665 incidents.

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman ascribes some of this to the use of technology including the body cameras. Many officers treat them now as a third eye or an extra witness. We need to ask if there are other reasons for it, but the number of actual force use is very small.

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That does not mean that the police is not receiving any complaints from the public. They are. Still receiving complaints. Category II are the most serious allegations. The data from the police does suggest that body-worn cameras might help in these investigations, but the data set is still fairly small,

We are giving you the data without us saying much about it. As we said, the data set is suggestive, but it is not yet large enough where it definitely is showing a trend, Unlike the use of force incidents, which shows a dramatic drop.

We also have learned from the department that they are in the process of replacing the first generation of cameras issued, with second generation equipment. The department has 1174 cameras, with 613 being newer generation II, while the remaining 561 are generation I. They expect to equip all uniformed sergeants with them by April of this year.

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