Police officials will give the Berkeley City Council a broad overview of 2014 crime trends Tuesday night, showing significant reductions in the city’s most serious incidents.
Last year saw a 25% reduction in violent crimes, and a 5% reduction in property crimes. The annual crime report draws largely on data submitted to the FBI. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program tracks homicide, robbery, rape, burglary, larceny, auto theft and aggravated assault across 17,000 law enforcement agencies, which represent 90% of these agencies nationwide.
The city saw increases in aggravated assaults (8%) and commercial burglaries (28%). Arson reports were flat. Police said the assaults “frequently involved alcohol or drug abuse by victim and/or suspect, and frequently involved acquaintances.”
The Berkeley Police Department handled three homicides last year, and made arrests in all three. A fourth fatality, which took place at the Seabreeze market in October, in the East Bay Regional Park District’s jurisdiction, is still under investigation.
Overall robberies dropped 35%, driven primarily by a 36% reduction in pedestrian robberies.
Reported rapes dropped about 14%, though the reporting standards are changing, which will increase the numbers seen each year in Berkeley. That’s because the FBI has broadened its definition of reportable sex crimes to include more types of incidents, and assaults on both males and females. (In the past, only crimes against females were tallied.) According to police, “Nearly all reported rapes and attempted rapes involved an acquaintance of some type.”
As for property crimes, burglaries were down 12% last year. Home burglaries, in particular, saw a 25% decrease. Regarding the 28% increase in commercial burglaries, according to police, “several commercial burglary series contributed to an increase … for the year.”
Larcenies, including auto burglary, petty theft and grand theft, were essentially flat, with a 1% decrease. However, “A marked increase in bike thefts kept theft categories from falling further,” police wrote.
The city has launched a bike theft reduction project, in collaboration with the University of California Police Department, to try to address the problem. The agencies are working together “to secure grant funding which, if awarded, will be used to fund bike theft education and enforcement efforts.” They are also working with local businesses and Bike East Bay to increase the number of registered bikes in the city.
Auto thefts dropped 17% in 2014. Most vehicles, 86%, were ultimately recovered in Berkeley or elsewhere.
In 2014, the city also revamped its police beats to reflect current calls for service and resources, according to the department. The city held a series of meetings last year to alert the community about the process and collect feedback, and ultimately reduced the number of beats from 18 to 14. See the new 14-beat map, as well as past Berkeleyside coverage of the topic.
Among its crime prevention and response strategies in 2014, the department said it focused on a rapid and robust response to crimes in progress; frequent internal communication regarding crime trends, series and wanted offenders; robbery suppression teams; its Nixle alert and notification service; and more.
The department also aimed to focus bike patrols downtown and on Telegraph Avenue; identify and arrest chronic offenders; and expand its Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) by training officers in mental health-influenced de-escalation methods. According to the department, “About 20% of officers and 29% of sergeants assigned to Patrol teams are now CIT trained, and the Department’s CIT coverage currently extends to all patrol teams.”
Violent crime reports down 44% in Berkeley (09.08.14)
Robberies rise, but serious crime down overall in 2013 (03.14.14)
Berkeley pedestrian robberies up 35%, burglaries up too (09.17.13)
Berkeley crime analysis: Robberies up 25% in 2013 (05.16.13)
Crime in Berkeley up 11% in 2012, but longer trend is down (02.06.13)
32 robberies in recent 30-day stretch in Berkeley (12.28.12)
Berkeley hills neighbors anxious after recent robberies (12.21.12)
Berkeley shows big decline in violent and property crime (03.07.12)
Violent and property crimes decline in Berkeley (08.30.11)
Berkeley crime rates show steady decline (04.28.11)
Crime in Berkeley was down in 2010 (02.28.11)
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