Residents may sleep safer thanks to a 9 percent drop in the crime rate for violent crimes this year compared to 2009 in Santa Monica, according to police reports.
The Part I category of crimes includes homicide, rape, larceny, burglary, and auto theft. The occurrence of lesser crimes has remained steady from the previous year. The Part II crimes, which include embezzlement, fraud, and identity theft, are not analyzed in such detail by the City.
“This is the lowest it has been in quite some time,” said Sgt. Jay Trisler at the Santa Monica Police Department. “You try to address the things that you can.”
Crime continues its downward trend nationally and statewide since 2006, according to the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. The U.S. and California violent crime rate dropped between 3 to 4 percent. Santa Monica’s violent crime dropped dramatically during that time, by 25 percent.
A similar trend between 2007 and 2009 occurred regarding property crime: the national property crime rate dropped 2 percent, statewide 4 percent, and in Santa Monica, a staggering 20 percent, according to City reports.
In January 2008, the Police Department implemented the Neighborhood Resource Officer Program, a way to link the public and the police, to have one officer assigned to those who live, work, or visit a given beat area. The new beat design includes linking merchant groups and neighborhood organizations within the same patrol beat boundaries. Having a familiar face to call in times of trouble also aids with forming trust between the department and residents.
In June, the Santa Monica City Council reject a proposal to eliminate two police lieutenant positions brought by City Manager Rod Gould and Police Chief Tim Jackman. In the face of a diminishing budget, the council decided to enforce a hiring freeze.
The police department is working to be more proactive in the city with more officers in the area, as well as looking at statistical times, dates, and locations where crime occurs, Trisler said. A yearly analysis of crime rates and occurrences allows the force to react to patterns within the city. With the return of all incumbents on the dais this election, the city is unlikely to change its support of public safety, both verbal and financial.
Still the arrival of the holiday season, residents and visitors are warned to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings, Trisler said. He advised keeping shopping bags out of sight or in the trunk to keep prying hands from breaking into the car. Volunteers from the police department will be out in droves in areas such as the Third Street Promenade to keep a watchful eye on susceptible shoppers.
Downtown has an especially high comparitive rate of theft because of the amount of businesses and people shopping. “More shoppers, more opportunity,” Trisler said, although higher enforcement and police presence reduced larceny about 8 percent in 2009, this involves petty theft except from malls or stores. With a continued increase in police enforcement this holiday season, the department hopes to further reduce that number.