Capitol Alert

Violent crime in California jumped 10 percent last year

Police surround the California Capitol on June 28 as clashes broke out between skinhead and “anti-fascist” protesters. Several people were stabbed.
Police surround the California Capitol on June 28 as clashes broke out between skinhead and “anti-fascist” protesters. Several people were stabbed. rbyer@sacbee.com

California violent crime increased 10 percent last year, the first rise since 2012, according to a report Friday from Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The number of violent crimes reached 166,588 in 2015, about 15,000 more than the previous year. Aside from the small uptick four years ago, and a few earlier blips, violent crime has been on a steady decrease over the last two decades.

The new report said homicides increased 9.7 percent, robberies rose 8.5 percent and aggravated assaults were up 8 percent.

Rapes increased 36 percent, to 12,793 from 9,397.

In Sacramento County, violent crime jumped nearly 11 percent, to 8,264 from 7,452.

Harris did not provide reasons for the increases in her report. She noted that while violent and property crime rates increased from the previous year, the 2015 rates remained nearly 3 percent and 0.4 percent lower than 2010, respectively, and about half of the rates the state experienced 20 years ago.

The report also said that robbery and aggravated assault rates dropped 13 percent and 1 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2015.

Burglary was down 2.6 percent last year, to 197,189 from 202,556, but property crimes saw a rise of 8 percent, to 1.02 million from 946,682.

Hate crimes increased 10.4 percent, from 758 to 837, with the vast majority of this increase attributed to an uptick in religious bias. Still, the total number of hate crimes has decreased nearly 36 percent from the 1,306 reported in 2006.

Assaults on peace officers grew by 10 percent.

The numbers could have political implications across the state, and benefit Republicans.

John Thomas, a GOP consultant in Los Angeles, said Republicans, particularly those running for law enforcement posts like sheriff, district attorney and state attorney general, could capitalize on higher crime to win seats where Democrats have registration advantages.

“This is the Democrats’ Achilles heal,” Thomas said late Friday. “They are responsible for the dramatic spike in crime and Republicans must use this in their messaging to make the winning difference.”

Harris, in the middle of her second term, is the front-runner to fill the seat of departing U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. If Harris wins, Gov. Jerry Brown would appoint her successor, who would serve out the rest of her term through 2018.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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