SPPD: Crime rate on the ‘down low’ with 2016 the safest in five years

March 01, 2017
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula’s crime rate is on the “down low” with 2016 being the safest in five years and returning to pre-2012 levels, a decrease Police Chief Steve McLean attributes to more cops, more aggressive crime-fighting and community help.

According to statistics released last week by the Santa Paula Police Department, the number of crimes reported in the city has steadily declined since 2013, reaching a new low last year of 426.

“Last year,” said McLean, “we arrested 133 gang members and recovered 83 guns. We recovered more guns last year than the previous combined — that’s a lot of firearms,” that otherwise would be used in violent crimes. 

The number of crime-fighters also had a dramatic effect: in 2010 the SPPD had 34 officers, a number that steadily dwindled as officers left and retired.

McLean said, “When I got here,” in July 2013, “we only had 19 cops and now we have 31 officers,” which is reflected in the downward crime trend.

“And, they’re really going after gang members, those on parole and probation,” and more likely to commit crime but also subject to stricter terms that mean automatic jail time when free.

McLean also credits the community, which has become more proactive in reporting crime and providing tips to police, even anonymously.

He admits to being pleased with the latest statistics, that show that even, “Despite more challenges from the early release programs,” and the state reclassifying former felonies to misdemeanors “Proactive police work is paying off for our community.”

Part I Crimes — known as violent crimes — include homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Part II Crimes — property incidents — include burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson and larceny. The statistics are collected each year by the FBI, which tracks the numbers nationwide.

In Santa Paula, Part I Crimes had declined from 686 in 2012 to 650 in 2013, and then fallen further to 535 in 2014, then 506 in 2015.

According to the SPPD: “The overall Per Capita Crime Index or crime rate per 1,000 people decreased last year from the previous year. Overall the crime rate decreased from 13.85 reported crimes per 1,000 people in 2016 from 16.49 reported crimes per 1,000 people in 2015 for a decrease in overall crime of 17 percent. When looking over the last 5 years 2016 has been the safest year. The year of 2012 had the highest reported crime rate per 1,000 people with a rate of 22.96.”

The city had two homicides in 2016, an increase from one in 2015. There were 26 robberies in 2016, an increase of 10 from the 16 reported in 2015.

The most notable increase in violent crimes was robbery, which increased to 26 from 16 the previous year, 64 percent.  

But, the most notable decrease reported by the SPPD was aggravated assault which last year was 43, down from 68 the previous year for a decrease of 37 percent.

Reported rapes also saw a decline, even with stricter reporting methods implemented for the 2015 report when there were 11 rapes. There were nine rapes reported in 2016.  

Part II Crimes were also down, a trend since 2013, with a 15.6 percent overall decline last year. 

Reported incidents of larceny and motor vehicle theft have also fallen since 2013 while others remained stable.

For the year 2016 the property crimes per 1,000 people decreased also from 2015. Last year the rate was 11.25 crimes per 1,000 people while for 2015 the rate was 13.36 for an overall Property Crime decrease of 16 percent. There were no increases in property crimes to report. 

The most notable decrease was burglary, with 76 incidents last year, down from 101 the previous year for a decrease of 25 percent. As far as property crimes, larceny showed the largest decrease, with 35 fewer cases reported — a decline from 255 cases in 2015 to 218 last year. Burglary showed the second-largest decrease. Last year, there were 76 burglaries reported, a number that was 25 fewer than the 101 reported in 2015.

Both motor vehicle theft and arson decreased by one incident in 2016. There were 50 stolen vehicles reported and four incidents of arson reported in 2015.

According to the report, over the past two years the number of service calls and arrests, which include bookings and misdemeanor citations, have stayed relatively the same. In 2016 officers responded to 24,436 calls for service as compared to 2015 when officers responded to 24,850 calls for service. In 2016 officers made 1,373 arrests while for 2015 officers made 1,420 arrests. 


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