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(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and local law enforcement leaders today announced that preliminary figures show a slight increase of 0.9 percent in reported crime in the state's most populous cities and counties during the first six months of 2003. From January to June, compared to the same period in 2002, the number of violent crimes - homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults - decreased by 3.7 percent and property crimes - burglary and motor vehicle theft - increased 3.4 percent. Lockyer released the crime figures at a State Capitol press conference with numerous local law enforcement leaders, including Arroyo Grande Police Chief Rick TerBorch, President of the California Police Chiefs Association; and, Modoc County Sheriff Bruce Mix, President of the California State Sheriffs' Association.
"Local and state law enforcement are working harder than ever during these tough economic times to solve and prevent crime in California," Lockyer said. "Even though these statistics show significant and welcome statewide decreases, some specific communities continue to experience spikes in crime. Additional cuts to local law enforcement funding would mean fewer cops on the street, fewer investigators to solve crimes and fewer officers needed to operate local jails. If we want to grow our economy, California needs to be a safe place to live, work and do business. In considering what to do about the vehicle license fee, it will be critically important that the new administration continue funding for the police and fire services that have long been funded by the VLF."
"California's sheriffs' departments are, in many cases, barely treading water," stated CSSA President Sheriff Mix. "Last year, sheriffs lost $75 million because of the gravity of the state budget dilemma and unnecessary partisan politics. We cannot continue to respond to public needs and guarantee the public's safety if we lose any more resources. Although the gravity of the state's budget situation continues to be a major problem, the first job of government is to protect public safety. Additional cuts to local law enforcement and counties will endanger our ability to perform this core function of government."
"It's a positive sign that despite enormous economic uncertainty most major crimes either decreased or remained the same for the first half of 2003," said CPCA President TerBorch. "This says much for the partnership forged between state and local governments and the municipal police agencies and sheriffs' departments that provide direct public safety services to 100% of the state's population. However, many of our agencies have had to curtail community based programs and enforcement operations due to funding cuts. Law enforcement's ability to maintain our portion of the partnership is at risk. Future cuts to local government will seriously jeopardize local government's ability to meet our constitutional mandate to protect the public and our moral obligation to ensure the safety and quality of life of our citizens." Of the six major crimes categories that make up the California Crime Index, all but one either decreased or remained unchanged. Motor vehicle thefts represent the only increase in the first six months of 2003 when compared to the same time period in 2002 and offset the decline reported in the remaining crime categories.
Homicides decreased 1.7 percent;
Forcible Rapes decreased 4.1 percent;
Robberies decreased 2.2 percent;
Aggravated Assaults decreased 4.5 percent;
Burglaries remained unchanged;
Motor Vehicle Thefts increased 6.7 percent.
Lockyer and law enforcement leaders noted that while California's crime levels remain at 30-year lows, millions of state residents live in communities that are experiencing disturbing spikes in certain crime categories. For instance, motor vehicle thefts increased by 36% or more in the cities of Pomona, Modesto and Santa Rosa compared to the same six-month period in 2002. Several other cities and counties experienced increases in the number of reported violent crimes as well.
Joining the Attorney General at the press conference were, Modoc County Sheriff Bruce Mix, CSSA President; Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle, CSSA 1st Vice President; Shasta County Sheriff Jim Pope, CSSA Past President; Sacramento County Sheriff Lou Blanas; Yolo County Assistant Sheriff Larry Hollingsworth; Arroyo Grande Police Chief Rick TerBorch, CPCA President; and, Livermore Police Chief Steve Krull, CPCA 3rd Vice President.
The preliminary report examines the number of major crimes in 72 cities and the unincorporated areas of counties with populations of 100,000 or more. It is not adjusted to account for increases in population. The report, "Crime 2003 in Selected California Jurisdictions, January through June," is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/preliminarys/jj03/jj03rpt.pdf.