A BPD crime analysis map shows unsecured homes and businesses and unlocked autos which were objects of crime in the first two months of this year. The department hopes sharing such information reduces “crimes of opportunity”. 

Total crime was down in Berkeley last year by 14%, a result that councilmembers hailed as “great news” when the annual crime report was presented at last night’s City Council meeting.

Violent crime fell 9%, from 531 crimes in 2010 to 482 in 2011. Property crime fell 15%, from 5,941 to 5,071. Only the small number of arsons increased, from 23 to 25, and auto theft was up 5%.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said that it was not yet possible to compare Berkeley’s results with other cities, but the reduction from 2009 to 2010 had been twice the state and national average.

Asked about the reasons for the encouraging results, Meehan said that academic studies had shown the only consistent factors in crime reduction were “adequate police resources and focused police strategies”. The Berkeley police, he said, worked to “specific and measurable goals”, which had been exceeded in 2011.

“We’ve improved our crime analysis, but we have a long way to go,” Meehan said, explaining some of BPD’s strategy. “We’re looking at patterns and trends to focus on the hot spots and chronic offenders.”

BPD Captain Cynthia Harris, presenting the crime report to the City Council, also showed figures that demonstrated a consistent five-year decline in crime in Berkeley. Property and violent crime is down from 7,755 in 2007 to last year’s 5,553, a 28% decline. Violent crime is down from 639 to 482, 24%, over the same period. Every category tracked in the Uniform Crime Reporting from the department is down over five years.

Harris also presented positive data on traffic safety in Berkeley. Total collisions were down 11% (from 1,396 to 1,237) from 2010 to 2011. Injury collisions were also down, from 595 to 538 over the year. Pedestrian-involved collisions were down 14% (111 to 95) and bicycle-involved collisions were down 16% (199 to 167). There were no fatal collisions in Berkeley in 2011, following the two in 2010.

The good results come despite the BPD being down on its authorized number of employees. For fiscal year 2012, the department should have 176 sworn staff, but it’s currently running at 164. At the City Council meeting, Lieutenant Matt Morizono said that there are eight potential job candidates who are being subjected to background investigation now. He said the department planned to be back at full strength by mid-summer.

Read the full crime report.

Berkeley police: we responded properly to Cukor’s murder [03.02.12]
Berkeley crime rates show steady decline [04.28.11]

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...