Attorney General Lockyer Releases Latest Crime Statistics
Violent Crimes Drop Slightly in 2002, Property Crimes Up in State's Largest Cities, Counties
(Sacramento) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that preliminary figures show crime in the state's most populous cities and counties increased 3.8 percent during 2002 compared to 2001, with the number of violent crimes decreasing slightly, 0.1 percent, while property crimes increased 6 percent.
Increases were reported for five of the six major crimes that make up the California Crime Index: homicides (10.8 percent), forcible rapes (2.9 percent), robberies (3.7 percent), burglaries (3.4 percent) and motor vehicle thefts (8.7 percent). Aggravated assaults dropped 2.3 percent during the year.
"We've made tremendous progress using technology and science to solve crimes and better protect our streets," Lockyer said. "Local law enforcement agencies are using these new tools wisely, and no matter how tough the budget times are, we must continue to support them by providing resources that help prevent crime, solve crimes and lock up those who prey on our communities."
Although the numbers of crimes reported by the larger cities and counties are significantly lower than in the early 1990s when violent crime peaked in California, Lockyer remains concerned about the rise in homicides.
"A total of 179 more homicides were reported by the largest law enforcement agencies in 2002, compared to 2001," Lockyer said. "Looking beyond the numbers, we must never forget the pain that each of these killings causes for families and communities."
Lockyer noted that with crime slightly up over the previous year, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors will rely even more on free forensic services provided by the 10 crime labs and the DNA lab in Richmond, all run by the Department of Justice (DOJ). For the past 30 years, the labs have collected, processed and analyzed crime scene evidence for law enforcement agencies in 46 of the 58 counties.
The Attorney General renewed his request to lawmakers and the governor to continue full funding of the DOJ labs, and to drop a budget proposal that would require local agencies to pay a "fee for service." Based on average use over the past three years, Lockyer estimates that the proposal would cost local agencies $3.5 million in fiscal year 2003-2004, and $7.1 million in 2004-2005 to obtain needed evidence examination and analysis.
"No matter how cash-strapped law enforcement agencies may be, they all deserve and require first-rate forensic services," Lockyer said. "The ability to protect the public, solve crimes and successfully prosecute criminals should not be blocked by budget woes."
The preliminary report, "Crime 2002 in Selected California Jurisdictions, January through December," examines the number of major crimes reported in 78 cities and unincorporated areas of counties with populations of 100,000 or more, and is not adjusted to account for increases in population. These cities and county jurisdictions report about 65% of the state's crime. The report is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/preliminarys/jd02/jd02rpt.pdf.
Later this summer, the Attorney General's office will release "Crime in California, 2002 – Advance Release," which will contain calculations for crime rates statewide based on crime and arrest data collected from all of the more than 600 agencies that report crime data. In the fall, the final report, "Crime in California, 2002" will be published.