Police chief explains increase in crime
SAN DIEGO – A 6.9 percent increase in crime in San Diego last year, compared to 2011 is attributable to the downsizing of the San Diego Police Department, the state-mandated return of prison inmates to county jails and an increasing transient population, police Chief William Lansdowne said Wednesday.
“The unfortunate part for me, as police chief, is that we have become a responsive police department, not a preventive police department, because we don’t have the resources to do some of those things,” Lansdowne said as he introduced the 2012 crime statistics to the City Council’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.
San Diego had 28.2 crimes per 1,000 in population, which is up for the second consecutive year.
Lansdowne said he’s had to cut his budget in each of the last eight years. Major cities across the state have had to reduce their police forces, and all are seeing crime increases.
“Cops do matter,” Lansdowne said.
Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the SDPD employs 315 fewer sworn officers right now than it did in 2003 and are currently 144 below what is budgeted for this year.
About 2,100 former state prisoners have been returned to San Diego County under the state’s realignment of its corrections system, with a 24 percent recidivism rate, according to Lansdowne.
Lansdowne said the transient population has brought problems with drugs, alcoholism and mental health.
“The county and the state have really cut back on the services,” Lansdowne said. “The only ones who can respond to many of these problems at three in the morning is law enforcement.”
According to the SDPD, the number of murders in San Diego climbed from 38 in 2011 to 47 in 2012, rape increased by 11 cases to 304, aggravated assaults jumped 10.4 percent and thefts were up 9 percent.
Despite the crime rate increase, the 2012 rate equals that of 2009 and is lower than most years recorded in the first decade of the 21st century. The number of crimes committed annually are comparable to the 1960s and 1970s, according to the SDPD report.