Pasadena Crime Numbers Down as County Rates Climb, Study Shows

Experts agree, however, that crime rates hold many variables

Published : Friday, January 5, 2018 | 6:40 AM

Pasadena Crime Numbers Down as County Rates Climb

Pasadena continues to outpace the state’s decreasing crime numbers and has seen an overall 18.2% decrease in crimes in 2016 compared to 2010, according to a just-released Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice study.

Surrounding Los Angeles County crimes increased, according to the study, while crime numbers show a decrease statewide.

According to the study by Mike Males, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, there has been a wide variation in property and violent crime rates during what has been called the “justice reform era,” meaning the cumulative effects of Public Safety Realignment, in the form of Propositions 47 and 57, with most jurisdictions showing a decrease in crime (CJCJ, 2017).

While Los Angeles County’s average crime trends differ somewhat from the rest of California, they reflect a similar local variation, the study noted.

“One of the things we have to look at is the individual crimes because overtime, as the law evolves, things change from being criminal to non-criminal,” says Charles Hogquist, managing consultant for CASTCorp International, a private security company, and former Police Chief for the San Diego Community College District and retired Commanding Officer from the San Diego Police Department.

Shedding some light on the types of things that affect statistics Hogquist gives the example that “as of January 1st, 2018 possession of marijuana is no longer illegal. Yet, when I started in police work in the 70s it was a felony.” Hogquist continues, “So again, overtime that will change your stats and your impact. So what you have to do when you do a comparison of this year to 2010, you have to look at the actual individual crimes they’re talking about and are they defined the same or have they changed overtime.”

The study goes on to show that property crime rates fell nearly six percent in the rest of California between 2010 and 2016, for example, yet Los Angeles County’s property crime rate rose by more than 4 percent, producing a net statewide rate decline of just over 3 percent.

At the same time, cities and local jurisdictions varied substantially across LA County, including declining property crime rates in El Monte (-4.4%), Monrovia (-25.7%) and Pasadena (-18.4%), with increasing rates in neighboring Rosemead (+9.2%) and South Pasadena (+55.4%).

This local variation suggests that crime patterns in Los Angeles County, as in the rest of the state, result from local policies and practices rather than statewide reform, the study noted.

Males also noted in his study that, “Given the localized nature of crime rates, cities in Los Angeles County that showed rate reductions through the reform era could serve as county or statewide models for successful local approaches to crime reduction amid justice reform.”

How did Pasadena fare in the midst of this?

Lt. Jason Clawson, Public Information Officer for the Pasadena Police Department, looks at the big picture as he discusses a drop in local crime numbers: “I think it’s the culmination of everything,” he said. “Policing is something that’s needed in the communities not just to make people safe, but to also make them ‘feel’ safe.”

“I think that there’s many factors that could be attributed to (the decrease),” Clawson said, “In the state of California, we’ve basically reduced criminal sentences and penalties from felonies to misdemeanors.

Speaking about the varying factors in recent crime statistics and trends, Clawson pointed out that, “I think we have to look at the different situations, now in today’s world possession of drugs has been decriminalized to misdemeanors.”

Clawson mirrored the assessment that local police agencies may have much to do with variations in local crime rates. He noted that the Pasadena Police Department was awarded California state grant for $2.5 million early in 2017 which also could have affected the City’s dropping crime numbers.

Clawson said that the money was used just to address the re-integration of people getting out of prison and long term sentences in the County Jail, so that they can return back to the community and get back to having a life.

Clawson continued, “We want to focus our energy and resources and provide services to these people to ensure they don’t go back to prison.”

Overall, for many crime experts, rising or falling crime numbers can be difficult to accept at pure face value.

“If you look at the crime trends for violent crimes in the United States going back to the 1900s, you’ll find that violent crime rate increases with the population rates,” says Hogquist.

Offering further examples of possible reasons for crime trends.

“During the period of the Great Depression when people were out of work, we also had crime increases that relates to economics,” Hogquist continued.

Further examples affecting crime trends and numbers are seasonality, Hogquist points out, “if you look at places like on the east coast where you have very hot, humid summers, the number of domestic violent crimes goes up because people are cooped up indoors and the hot weather makes people irritable.”

Hogquist continued, “If you have a blizzard in New York city today, there’s not going to be anybody out on the roads or the streets. So the chances of you getting pickpocketed or mugged today will be close to zero. So believe it or not, all of those factors go in together and I’ve never seen anybody really graph crime trends taking all of those factors into consideration.”

Accounting for some of the possible variations that affect crime statistics, the study does go on to say that, “The Los Angeles County crime rate is comprised of dozens of divergent local trends.”

Currently in Pasadena, year-to-date through November, according to the Pasadena Police Department’s Preliminary – Monthly Statistical Report for November 2017, overall crime is down 4%, however, there are also significant increases in violent crimes:

That preliminary report indicated that homicide is up 600% from last year; the first eleven months of 2016 saw one homicide and so far in 2017 there have been seven. Rape is up 54%, in 2016 there were a total of 28 rapes and this year there have been 43 reported rapes. Robbery this year is up 35%, in 2016 there were 139 reported robberies and so far this year we’ve had 187. Assault is up 24% over 2016, however, Assault with a Deadly Weapon is down 4%. The most significant decrease was in the category of theft, which fell by 18% from 2016 at this time.

Some experts said the overall message as to what the numbers mean on a personal level is not to become part of the statistics and not become a victim.

Clawson points out, “I don’t know anybody that knows somebody who wants them to be a victim of a crime.”

He continued, “we need to remain vigilant; there’s people that want to victimize us, there’s people that want what we have, but we as a community especially here in Pasadena, we want people to take care of each other, we want people to be safe, but also to feel safe, but we also want us to look out for one another.”

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