June 17, 2009

Stockton’s Crime Rate Second in California

A night-time view of Downtown Stockton and the Plaza

Stockton, CA is on many lists, and its pretty well known…but not for the right reasons. We thought being on Forbes “Most Miserable Cities” list was bad…until we became the number one city. That was bad. Not only is Stockton climbing the ladder to notoriety in the business world, but it’s violent crime rate has now become California’s second highest, right after Oakland.
Stockton has potential-that’s why it hasn’t been completely abandoned. But the residents of the San Joaquin Valley cannot reply only on the government or City Council to make change. Lasting change comes from the ground up. Unless the citizens of Stockton take matters into their own hands, anything the government does won’t help us. City Council is doing their part, but are we doing ours? The only way to fix the problem is to become active in our community and take ownership of the city.
Until the residents of Stockton can learn to do that, Stockton, CA will be famous, but for all the wrong reasons.

By David Siders
Record Staff Writer
June 02, 2009 6:00 AM
STOCKTON - Stockton in 2008 had the second-highest violent crime rate among California’s largest cities and the eighth-highest violent crime rate nationwide, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI.

Stockton’s rate of 14.7 violent crimes per 1,000 people was second statewide to Oakland for the third consecutive year, according to the FBI, which reported on cities with populations of at least 100,000.

The number of violent crimes in Stockton - including murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults - increased 2.5 percent from 2007, to 4,322 in 2008. Nationwide, the number of violent crimes decreased 2.5 percent, the FBI said.

In Stockton, the increase owed primarily to a 6.5 percent rise in aggravated assaults, to 2,628. There were 112 forcible rapes, up from 105 the previous year, according to the FBI. Robberies were down 3.5 percent, and homicides fell to 24, the fewest since 1976.

Deputy Police Chief Mark Helms said violent crime declined in the first four months of 2009, down 13 percent from the same period last year, and for that reason, Mayor Ann Johnston said, “I think next year’s stats will show a different story.”

Helms attributed early decreases in the violent crime rate this year to “some pretty healthy staffing levels in patrol.” He said, “We’re still doing a lot of self-initiated work.”

City Hall issued layoff notices in May to 55 members of the Police Department’s force of about 400 officers, part of a citywide cost-cutting campaign to fix a $31million budget deficit. It remained unclear how many of those officers will be laid off when fiscal 2009-10 starts July 1, but it is almost certain the department will shrink significantly.

Johnston said a department reorganization to put more officers on patrol, and partnerships with agencies such as the California Highway Patrol - which is temporarily deploying dozens of officers in Stockton to help fight gang violence - could maintain the successes of early 2009.

The number of property crimes in Stockton in 2008 was down 3.9 percent from the previous year, to 17,955 crimes, according to the FBI. Nationwide, property crimes were down 1.6 percent.

St. Louis had the highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2008, at 20.7 violent crimes per 1,000 people. It was followed by Flint, Mich.; Oakland; Detroit; Memphis, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; Baltimore; and Stockton.

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