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Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights Police Chief Ronald Lawrence said in a report to the City Council last week that the top eight serious crimes tracked by the FBI, referred to as ‘The Big 8,” dropped to their lowest point in the history of the local police department in 2019.
In recent years, Citrus Heights saw slight upticks in crime in 2016 and 2017, followed by a double-digit drop of 10% in 2018 that brought levels for serious crimes down to their lowest since the department was formed in 2006. Last year, police statistics show crime dropped another 9%, beating the prior year’s record.
The annual crime report is traditionally presented to the City Council each year around March and is based on crime data from “Part 1” of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, which tracks eight categories of serious crimes, broken down by property crimes and persons crimes. Property crimes include burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, while persons crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
Police data shows in 2006, there was a total of 3,958 “Part 1” crimes in Citrus Heights. By 2014 that number had dropped to 3,091, and last year that number dropped to 2,568.
In 2019, double-digit drops were seen in robberies, arson, and motor vehicle thefts, which dropped from 329 stolen vehicles down to 269.
Drops were seen in each of the eight categories, with a 2% drop in rapes, a 12% drop in robberies, and a 1% drop in assaults, compared to the prior year. Burglary was also down by 9%, larceny/theft down by 8%, and motor vehicle theft down by 18%. Homicides also dropped from two in 2018 down to one last year.
Comparison data with other cities is not yet available on the FBI’s website, which has only published a preliminary summary of data from the first six months of 2019. That data shows a 3.1% drop nationally in violent crimes and a 5.6% drop in property crimes.
A police department post last week on Facebook about the local drop in crime was met with praise, as well as skepticism from a few.
“Is crime down, or is everything just being decriminalized by Newsom?” wrote one commenter. Another questioned whether the drop could be attributed to victims not taking the time to file a report.
In response, police posted a comment clarifying that Uniform Crime Reporting is based on reports, rather than arrests, and said the department encourages residents to file reports online or by phone “[r]egardless of the current consequences for criminals.”
Sgt. David Neher reiterated that point in an email to The Sentinel over the weekend, noting that the department has no way of knowing a crime occurred unless reports are filed. He said the department is vocal in encouraging victims to file reports, which allows police to investigate “as well as capture accurate data.”
The department’s annual Uniform Crime Reporting statistics are required to be submitted to the FBI each year for tracking purposes. The annual crime reports do not include “Part 2” crimes, which are considered less serious and are only required to be reported if there is an arrest, according to theFBI’s website.
Examples of Part 2 crimes includefraud, vandalism, statutory rape, andassaults or attempted assaults that “are not of an aggravated nature and do not result in serious injury to the victim.”
A Sentinel review of police statistics found several apparent discrepancies in crime totals reported for 2018 in Citrus Heights, most notably in the number of homicides reported that year.
Last year, the department reported there was only one homicide in 2018, while this year’s report showed there were two homicides in 2018. Asked about the variances, Commander Jason Russo told The Sentinel that crimes can be reclassified as more information comes to light, including from additional investigation or coroner’s findings.
With the homicide numbers in 2018, Russo said a death was reclassified to a homicide “based upon additional investigation.” Limited details are being released about the case as it is still under investigation, but Russo said the incident involved a suspect pushing a victim, who then fell, hit her head on the floor and later died as a result.
Chief Lawrence’s report also included additional data on traffic collisions, traffic citations, total arrests, calls for service and other police department activity in 2019. Several highlights from the extended report include:
- 56,519 calls to 9-1-1
- 37 texts to 9-1-1
- 6,020 traffic citations issued
- 2,411 arrests
- DUI arrests increased by 50%
- 96 DUI checkpoint and saturation patrols
- 780 traffic collisions
- Zero roadway fatalities
- 175 people housed through Navigator program
The police department’s full annual report can be viewed online at cops.citrusheights.net
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