By The Vanguard Staff
OAKLAND, CA – A series of California crime “statistical reports” were announced late this week by CA Attorney General Rob Bonta, who noted while crime remains below “historical highs,” gun crime is having “devastating consequences for communities across the state.”
The copious annual reports—Homicide in California, Crime in California, Use of Force Incident Reporting, and Juvenile Justice in California—are annually provided to policymakers, researchers, law enforcement, and members of the public with “vital statewide information on criminal justice statistics in California to support informed policy choices based on data and analysis and help protect the safety and well-being of all Californians,” said the AG office.
The reports were delayed, added the AG, because the state computer system was upgraded, and certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year.
“While crime rates remain significantly below their historical highs, property and violent crimes continue to have devastating consequences for communities across the state. Gun violence in particular remains a consistent and growing threat. In fact, in 2021, nearly three-fourths of all homicides in California involved a firearm,” said AG Bonta.
He added, “As we confront these ongoing challenges, we must have accountability and appropriate consequences for those who break the law. Accurate statistics and the data in the annual crime reports are a critical part of calibrating our response, ensuring policymakers and law enforcement are able to make informed decisions.”
Some of the key findings the AG released are:
- The total number of reported homicides in the state increased 7.2 percent year-to-year from 2,202 in 2020 to 2,361 in 2021, remaining significantly below California’s historical high of 4,095 homicides in 1993;
- In 2021, 75 percent of homicides, where the weapon was identified, involved a firearm. Firearms continue to be the most common weapon used in homicides;
- For California’s counties with populations of 100,000 or more, in percentages, Kern (13.7), Merced (9.5), and Tulare (8.8) were the counties that experienced the highest homicide rates and Placer (1), San Luis Obispo (0.7), and Marin (0.4) experienced the lowest homicide rates. Napa and Shasta counties reported they had zero homicides;
- Among homicides where the victim’s relationship to the suspect was identified, females (35.6 percent) were more likely than males (6.4 percent) to be killed by their spouse, parent, or child; and
- There was a 2.9 percent decrease in homicide arrests from 1,597 in 2020 to 1,550 in 2021, remaining above the 10-year average of 1,478.2 homicide arrests per year.
The AG “Crime in California 2021” reported statewide crimes, arrests, dispositions of adult felony arrests, adult probation, criminal justice personnel, civilians’ complaints against peace officers, domestic violence-related calls for assistance, anti-reproductive-rights crimes, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted.
Key findings include:
- The violent crime rate—i.e., the number of violent crimes per 100,000 people—increased 6.7 percent from 437 in 2020 to 466.2 in 2021, remaining significantly below California’s historical high of 1,103.9 in 1992;
- The property crime rate increased 3 percent from 2,114.4 in 2020 to 2,178.4 in 2021, remaining near last year’s historical low and significantly below California’s historical high of 6,880.6 in 1980;
- The total arrest rate decreased 7.3 percent from 2,812.3 in 2020 to 2,606.3 in 2021, continuing an ongoing year-to-year downward trend that began in 2004 when the total arrest rate was 5,385.5;
- In 2021, the total number of adults on active probation reached its lowest level since 1980 at 151,414; and
- The total number of full-time criminal justice personnel—including law enforcement, prosecutors, investigators, public defenders, and probation officers—decreased 2.7 percent from 153,883 in 2020 to 149,688 in 2021, falling slightly below the 10-year average of 151,909.8.
The AG’s “Use of Force Incident Reporting 2021” provided information about use of force and discharge-of-firearm incidents involving a peace officer. There were 628 incidents that involved the use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death of a civilian or officer, or the discharge of a firearm.
Of those incidents, 47.8 percent occurred during a call for service, 19.7 percent occurred while either a crime was in progress or while officers were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; and 15.4 percent resulted from a vehicle, bike, or pedestrian stop.
The report added that 660 civilians were “involved in incidents that involved the discharge of a firearm or use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death.” Of those, 50.6 percent were Hispanic, 25.5 percent were white and 16.7 percent were Black.
Additionally, 1,462 officers engaged in incidents that involved the discharge of a firearm or use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Of those officers, 83.8 percent were not injured; 15.9 percent were injured; and 0.3 percent died.
“Juvenile Justice in California 2021” noted the number of arrests, referrals to probation departments, petitions filed, and dispositions for juveniles tried in juvenile and adult courts.
Of the 31,370 referrals of juveniles to probation, 92.5 percent were referred by law enforcement. Of the 19,355 juvenile arrests, 47.2 percent were for a felony, 46.5 percent for a misdemeanor and 6.3 percent for a status offense. About 77.2 percent were put on probation, and 16 percent releases after counseling and 6.8 percent were turned over to another agency.
And, the AG reported, of the 17,413 juvenile cases that were formally managed by a juvenile court, 55.3 percent resulted in juveniles being made wards of the court; and of the 52 juvenile cases tried in adult court, 67.3 percent resulted in a conviction.
The Homicide in California report is available here. The Crime in California report is available here. The Use of Force Incident Reporting report is available here. The Juvenile Justice in California report is available here. The underlying data associated with the annual reports is available on OpenJustice here.