Translate Website | Traducir Sitio Web
Translate Website | Traducir Sitio Web
(SAN DIEGO) – During a speech to the California Law Enforcement Executive Summit on DNA, Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that preliminary figures show that during the first half of this year, the number of crimes in the most populous cities and counties in California increased 1.3 percent when compared to 1999.
The preliminary report, "Crime 2000 In Selected California Jurisdictions, January through June," compares crime counts for six major offense categories during 1999 and 2000 for 77 jurisdictions with populations of 100,000 or more. These jurisdictions represent about 65 percent of the state's population. Within these jurisdictions, crimes tracked by the California Crime Index increased 1.3 percent:
Homicides increased 4.7 percent;
Forcible Rapes increased 9.7 percent;
Robberies decreased 1.5 percent;
Aggravated Assaults increased 2.5 percent;
Burglaries decreased 0.7 percent; and
Motor Vehicle Thefts increased 3.3 percent.
While the overall figures showed a statewide increase in the rate of reported crime, the 77 jurisdictions were evenly split between those showing increases and decreases. In fact, if the Los Angeles Police Department had been taken out of the report, the state would have seen a 1.1% decrease in the rate of reported crime. The Attorney General expressed particular concern during his speech about the fact that 49 jurisdictions reported an increase in the number of forcible rapes during the first six months of 2000.
"Statistics suggest that sex offenders commit an average of seven to eight rapes during their criminal lifetime," Lockyer said. "Today, through the use of DNA evidence and improved investigative techniques, we can identify and convict sex offenders more effectively than at any time in history. We must send a message to criminals that if you commit the crime, we will catch and convict you."
The California Law Enforcement Summit on DNA Evidence was convened by the Attorney General, San Diego District Attorney Paul Pfingst and leaders of the California State Sheriffs', Police Chiefs' and Peace Officers' associations. Over the course of two days, the summit will give law enforcement officials important information on recent law changes pertaining to DNA as well as training on improved crime scene investigative techniques and prosecution strategies to ensure convictions of criminal offenders.
Attorney General Lockyer has made improved use of DNA science and technology a priority of his administration. This past year, Governor Gray Davis signed into law two bills sponsored by the Attorney General to give law enforcement more tools to protect public safety. The laws, which take effect on January 1, 2001, extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes and allow law enforcement to use DNA evidence gathered from persons arrested for the commission of a violent crime to solve other unsolved crimes. Through a $50 million rape kit program, the Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning and the Attorney General are also working cooperatively to help local agencies re-open an estimated 15,000 unsolved sex crimes.
The Attorney General also noted that the state's DNA Databank will have eliminated a decade-old backlog by the summer of 2001. The Department of Justice's DNA Databank contains DNA profiles of individuals who have been convicted of one of nine different violent and sexual offenses. Law enforcement agencies use the Databank to solve crimes by matching crime scene evidence against DNA profiles contained in the Databank. The Databank is such an effective public safety tool, that the Attorney General announced he will sponsor legislation this year to expand the list of qualifying offenses to cover all felonies.
"In states that use all felonies for the DNA Databanks, 50% of all the cases they solve involve offenders who had previously committed an offense that would not qualify for inclusion in California," Lockyer said. "If we want to hold criminals accountable for their actions, we must expand the Databank."
"In spite of this latest increase, the crime rate in California remains at record lows – a rate we haven't seen since 1965," Lockyer noted. "But we must continue to develop new strategies to prevent and deter criminality in California, as well as identify and punish criminal offenders."
The preliminary report, which includes crime statistics for each individual law enforcement agency and contract city with a population of more than 100,000, is available on the Attorney General's web site.