SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud releases crime update
By Sam Catanzaro
Over the past month a string of high-profile incidents in Santa Monica, including an armed bank robbery in broad daylight, have generated buzz — both literally from news and police helicopters and metaphorically in the media — but the chief of police says crime in the city is down, though acknowledges a disconnect among some residents in perception of crime and safety.
According to Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) Chief Cynthia Renaud, year to date, Santa Monica is experiencing a 15 percent decrease in Part 1 crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft.
“We have not seen a decrease like this in a few years,” Renaud said. “We are seeing a significant decrease in car break-ins and assaults which are areas that we typically see the most crime. For car break-ins, we are seeing a 17.5 percent decrease, down by 120 incidents from last year in downtown alone. The busiest parking structures are seeing reductions in criminal activity, which can be attributed to a few new changes we imposed, such as private security patrols and an intensified focus on our crime suppression missions.”
In the past two months, Santa Monica has experienced a string of high-profile incidents that attracted media coverage and news helicopters.
On August 15 three minors and an adult were arrested for attempting to rob a Santa Monica jewelry store armed with a sledgehammer. On August 16, a man who attempted to rob a Brinks armored car was non-fatally shot by a security guard.
On September 10, an armed, masked robber stole between $3,000 and $5,000 from a Wells Fargo bank on Montana Avenue in broad daylight and eluded a massive manhunt. The same day, in a separate incident, a burglar led police on a foot chase from Venice to the Santa Monica Pier along the beach. On September 12 a suspected burglar was non-fatally shot by SMPD officers at the culmination of a K-9 assisted search. On September 16 a suspicious package resembling a pressure-cooker was found on the Third Street Promenade, shutting down the popular shopping destination for several hours. On September 20 the Santa Monica police utilized K-9 and SWAT officers to detain a man who barricaded himself behind a dumpster with a firearm, which later turned out to be an airsoft rifle. On September 22 another suspicious package was found near the Third Street Promenade, briefly shutting down nearby streets. On October 3 a suspected armed robber escaped a manhunt in Santa Monica’s North of Montana neighborhood.
“In the last month, Santa Monica has experienced a handful of unique and high-profile incidents that attracted media coverage and news helicopters. I understand how that may cause some to feel unsafe. I want to reassure when crimes occur you have an extremely professional and highly trained police force working to keep you safe every day,” Renaud said. “The City of Santa Monica is unique in that we are a small city with a big city feel and we have appeal and draw for everyone.”
After Renaud’s crime update was released many community members on social media accused the SMPD of suppressing crime numbers by encouraging the public to not report crimes, allegations Renaud dismissed.
“I’m sorry to hear about those comments on social media. No, we are not suppressing crime numbers. No, we are not asking or encouraging citizens to not report crimes. Our Part I crimes are down in all categories. And while that may be the factual truth, I fully understand that the Police Department is responsible for crime and safety, as well as the perception of crime and safety. The first is much easier to tackle than the second, but we are working on both,” Renaud said.
“I fully understand that the Police Department is responsible for crime and safety, as well as the perception of crime and safety. The first is much easier to tackle than the second, but we are working on both.”SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud
In addition, Renaud pointed to the issue of assaults as an area in where the SMPD could improve in.
“As your Police Chief, I am always concerned with the crime of assault and I know that it does not convey a feeling of safety in our community when assaults occur,” Renaud said. “We recently hired 20 more officers to our workforce and we are working to reach our full staffing numbers. This means there are more police units out on the street to continue with our crime-fighting efforts and commitment to community outreach.”