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Crime drops again in Sacramento – here’s why, according to police and residents

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Mayor Darrell Steinberg met with neighborhood pastors before leading a walk through the Oak Park area Friday night with faith leaders, school board members and other community leaders.
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Mayor Darrell Steinberg met with neighborhood pastors before leading a walk through the Oak Park area Friday night with faith leaders, school board members and other community leaders.

Crime in Sacramento continued to decrease for a second year in 2017, falling by 5.3 percent compared to 2016, Sacramento Police Department data show.

About 3,365 violent crimes, a category representing homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, were handled by the Sacramento Police Department last year – 5.4 percent less than the year before. Property crime decreased by 5.3 percent in 2017.

The decline continues a decades-long trend of falling crime in Sacramento that was interrupted by a 20 percent spike in 2015. Last year, violent crime ticked down by 1.5 percent and property crime by 7 percent.

“A 5 percent decrease in crime overall is a positive step,” Police Department spokesman Eddie Macaulay said of the recent crime data. “The relationships that we have with the community groups, the citizens, go a long way to reduce crime in the city.”

Crime by council district

Most neighborhoods in the city of Sacramento saw decreases in crime in 2017.
Map of crime by Sacramento council district 
Source: Sacramento Police Department
The Sacramento Bee

The largest decline in violent crime – 18.3 percent – was in the Pocket-Greenhaven neighborhood. That part of the city houses mostly middle to upper-middle class families and is generally considered safe.

Will Cannady, the president of the Pocket Greenhaven Community Association, credits the active engagement among residents and frequent reporting to the neighborhood’s NextDoor social media page for the low violent crime rates. About 8,100 people subscribe to the private social media website, he said.

While property crime increased in the Pocket-Greenhaven neighborhood by 4.1 percent since 2016, the highest increase among all districts, the area had the fewest actual reports of property crime in Sacramento. Larceny, or theft of one’s property, was the most common form of property crime in the district last year, the data show. Cannady said neighbors have complained of mail theft in recent years.

District 1, which encompasses most of Natomas, also saw a slight increase in property crimes. Property crimes data provided by the Sacramento Police Department include burglary, larceny and motor vehicle thefts.

The second largest decrease in violent crime for 2017 was seen in District 6, which encompasses southeast Sacramento. Just a year before, violent crimes increased there more than in any other part of the city, with Sacramento police data showing an uptick of more than 25 percent when compared to 2015 figures.

Police pointed to robberies targeting Asian American residents in the area as a possible reason for the rise in criminal activity that year.

The department investigated 363 violent crimes in District 6 during 2017, 65 less than the year before, or a 15.2 percent decline, police figures show. More than half of those crimes were aggravated assaults, or a physical attack with the intent of causing someone severe bodily injury. Property crimes also dropped by 11.5 percent from the year prior, more than in any other district.

Councilman Eric Guerra, who oversees the district, said police held almost two dozen meetings at neighborhood churches and community centers last year to better educate residents on how to get help when they witness or are victims of a crime. Some of his constituents primarily speak Hmong, Cantonese or Spanish, and may be hesitant to call police if they sense a language barrier, he said.

“You cannot replace having both district representatives, staff on the ground and police talking to the community,” Guerra said. “We had classes on how to dial 911. Many of them didn’t know how to dial 911.”

The addition of police cameras, which come equipped with license plate reader technology, has also been helpful in the district, Guerra said. In some cases, suspects committed crimes in stolen cars and were later detected by the police cameras.

The Stockton Boulevard Partnership, a property and business improvement district in the city, funded the installation of one such device in 2017 to be used by the Sacramento Police Department, according to the group’s website. Frank Louie, the partnership’s executive director, said the group has also launched a mobile app in recent weeks that lets property and business owners report illegal encampments, dumping and graffiti, similar to the county’s 311 app. Reports are handled by the Stockton Boulevard Partnership maintenance and security crews, which helps expedite responses, he said.

“Safety and economic development is our No. 1 priority,” Louie said. “If we see something that’s broken, we want to get it fixed right away.”

Crime in Sacramento decreased even as the Police Department faced staffing shortages among its rank-and-file officers in 2017. Macaulay said department watch commanders and patrol supervisors evaluate where officers should patrol at least three times a day, at the start of every shift, based on crime trend data.

“The main priority is to staff our patrol division to make sure we are providing those emergency services to the community,” Macaulay said.

If you have information about any of these people, please call 800-222-7463 or 916-443-4357, or report online at crimealert.org.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets

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