California is mostly known for its sunny climate, relaxed population, and seemingly abundant lifestyle; not the kind of place one would associate with violent crime. Yet statistics from the FBI show that violent crime in California, including murder, aggravated assault, and car theft is up by 9.5 percent. That said, the crimes in the state have so far remained below the historic peak. Even so, this marks the reversal of a steady decline that began in the early 1990s. Should police take steps to tackle the crime increase before it becomes a serious issue?
Back in the 1990s, New York experienced a significant decline in crime rate thanks to aggressive policing of lower-level crimes, a policy which has been dubbed the “broken windows” approach to law enforcement. The theory was that minor disorders could lead to bigger crimes if they weren’t swiftly dealt with. For example, when arrests for misdemeanors had risen by 10 percent, indicating increased use of the “broken windows” method, robberies dropped 2.5 to 3.2 percent. However, because the prison time for misdemeanors is short, experts agree that there were other factors in play to cause such a decline in crimes.
Although it’s possible that just the experience of being arrested and put through the system caused a lot of young offenders to seriously reconsider their life choices. Standing in front of a judge, being charged with a crime, and set a bail that their families couldn’t afford might be enough of a deterrent for some offenders – although today people can reach out to Acme Bail for help covering the cost. However, this is a small matter compared to the increase in murders in Los Angeles in 2015. Overall, California’s violent and property crime rates increased by about 8 percent each in 2015 compared with 2014.
There are statistics to show that hate crime is following the same trend, as the majority of the uptick involved religious bias. Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish incidents were up, as were those targeting Latinos. At 43 percent, the largest proportion of homicide victims was Latino, followed by 28.4 percent black, and 21.3 percent white. Nearly 29 percent of homicides were gang-related, with firearms used in 70 percent of the slayings. Monterey County recorded the highest homicide rate, 13.8 per 100,000, and Imperial, Placer and San Luis Obispo counties the lowest. In Los Angeles County, 592 people were killed in 2015, for a rate of 5.8. In Orange County, 57 people were slain, for a rate of 1.8. On the other hand, the total number of hate crimes reported in California has plunged by more than a third since 2006, so there is a chance this increase will only be temporary if the right action is taken.
Despite the increase in violent crimes, particularly towards minorities, the most common crime committed in California remain minor, such as DUIs, and driving offences, although drugs remains one of the worst crime charges in the state.