■ By Sgt. Chris Durham / Riverside County Sheriff Department
[Editor’s Note: The Valley Chronicle has requested specific data for the city of San Jacinto and area of service by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hemet Station, which will be included in a future issue. See this issue for city of Hemet statistics, as delivered by Hemet Police Chief David Brown in a recent address to the City Council.]
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) has released preliminary crime statistics for 2016, indicating an overall increase of 1.1 percent in all reported FBI Part I crimes. However, in contrast to the overall FBI Part I crime increase, violent crime increased by 12.1 percent in the Sheriff’s areas of Riverside County (both unincorporated areas and cities), while there was only a 0.2 percent increase in overall property crime in those same areas. The FBI typically publishes final crime data for 2016 later this year.
2016 homicides increased sharply by more than 71 percent over 2015, there was also an 18 percent increase in the number of rapes, a more than 12 percent increase in robberies and an almost 11 percent increase in aggravated assaults reported to the Sheriff. The violent crime numbers were the highest reported since 2009.
Property crimes (burglaries, auto thefts & felony thefts) in all of the Sheriff’s areas of responsibility (county and cities) within Riverside County increased by 0.2 percent. Reported burglaries dropped more than 3 percent from the previous year.
Auto thefts increased by more than 4 percent in 2016, continuing the trend from the previous year and are the highest number reported since 2007.
Within only the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, violent and property crimes decreased overall by almost 1 percent in 2016. However, decreases in aggravated assault, burglary, and automobile theft were offset by homicides more than doubling, reported rapes increasing by almost half, an increase in robberies, and a rise in reported larceny/thefts not seen since 2011.
Larceny/theft account for more than 60 percent of all property crimes. The larceny/theft activity throughout the unincorporated area is mainly comprised of “Grab & Runs” from both commercial and residential locations, to include vehicles parked at residences. Items most often taken were tools, electronics, personal items (wallets, purses, money) and guns.
Almost 69 percent of unincorporated violent crime is aggravated assault. Further analysis shows most reported aggravated assaults are related to domestic violence, and a clear majority of those are spousal beatings. Domestic violence was also a factor in almost 17 percent of the reported unincorporated area homicides where a primary motive has been established.
It is important to note that the RCSD has a long history of collaboration with all responsive agencies when it comes to the application of domestic violence resources. Its investigative bureaus across the county have designated Domestic Violence Threat Management (DVTM) trained investigators focusing on reviewing domestic violence reports to identify training or follow-up needs, identifying subjects likely to commit repeated acts of domestic violence, participating in multi-agency collaborative countywide threat management teams, handling high-profile or threat management domestic violence incidents, and mentoring deputies to improve initial and follow-up domestic violence investigations. All of this is focused on supporting the victim, stopping the behavior, and breaking the cycle of violence.
The Department continues to seek grant funding to support this emphasis and works closely with the Family Justice Courts, the District Attorney and their Victim Witness advocates, the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement team (SAFE), and support organizations such as ‘Shelter from the Storm’ and the ‘Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center’ to assist with restraining orders, group sessions, safety plans, and individual victim needs such as food and gas vouchers, along with several other Crime Victim Assistance programs.
Contract City Impact:
Looking at only the Sheriff’s contract law enforcement city partners all combined, violent crime increased more than 19 percent, property crimes increased 0.3 percent, with overall FBI Part I Crimes increasing almost 1.7 percent.
The Sheriff’s contract policing services provides each of our 17 community partners with a flexible menu of services and each city is able to control its police staffing levels along with their focus to suit their respective community. The Sheriff’s local commanders serve as city police chiefs for each city manager and are just as responsive as any other city department head. This responsiveness encourages considerable initiative and creativity in dealing with local crime challenges in each of those partner cities.
The Sheriff serves nearly 1 million people within the 17 cities that contract for police services, and another 400,000 in the unincorporated area of the county outside of those cities.