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The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department released preliminary crime statistics for the first 10 months of 2013 in late December, indicating a reduction in reported FBI Part I crimes. Reporting data for 2013 crime is now complete for all 12 months, and the Sheriff’s Department has released this updated information. The crime data reinforces the sharp drops in reported overall violent crime in the Sheriff’s areas of Riverside County (both unincorporated areas and cities), along with smaller drops in overall property crime as well.
Although homicides were up sharply at 44%, along with a 4.9% increase in the number of forcible rapes reported to the Sheriff, the overall FBI violent crime numbers (homicide, rape, robbery & aggravated assaults) were down by 15.7% across all of the Sheriff’s areas, but dropped 16.6% in just the Sheriff’s unincorporated areas alone. In all of the Sheriff’s areas of responsibility (county and city), robberies were down by 14.2%, aggravated assaults down by 19%, and burglaries were down sharply by 12.1%.
The Sheriff’s Department serves as the contract policing agency partner with 17 of Riverside County’s 28 cities and serves the unincorporated areas of Riverside County for criminal investigations. Altogether, the Sheriff is responsible for policing nearly 1.4 million residents of the County’s population of nearly 2.3 million.
The Sheriff’s contract policing service provides each of its 17 community partners with a flexible menu of services and each city is able to control its police staffing levels along with their unique focus for their own community. The Sheriff’s local commanders serve as city police chiefs for each city manager and are just as responsive as any other city department head. This responsiveness encourages considerable initiative and creativity in dealing with the local threats and opportunities in dealing with local crime challenges in each of those cities.
Sheriff Stan Sniff attributed the overall drop in crime numbers to the slow but steady increases in patrol staffing in the unincorporated areas of the County funded by the Board of Supervisors that commenced in late 2012. As originally projected by the Sheriff, patrol staffing will reach the Board of Supervisors’ target of 1.0 sworn/1000 population across the County’s unincorporated areas late this spring, with the Board’s current direction to thereupon continue to build patrol deputy staffing up to 1.2 sworn/1000 population over the next few years. The Sheriff’s contract city partners each staff their cities in accordance with each city government’s direction. Additionally, the Sheriff and local police chiefs across Riverside County maintain close coordination and teamwork in using regional teams, task forces, community partnerships, and multi-disciplinary approaches in confronting our crime problems and the impacts of AB 109 Realignment.
The county’s senior law enforcement leadership meets bimonthly to assess and discuss emerging issues and trends, to share resources and information rapidly, and to minimize adverse impact to our already severely overcrowded jails in Riverside County.
In addition, the Sheriff’s jail leadership has been on the cutting-edge in working closely with the District Attorney’s Office, the Probation Department, and other jail systems statewide in alternative sentencing programs and in developing assessment tools and training programs to address local inmate recidivism. Sheriff Sniff underscored that the fielding of advanced technology has been pre-eminent locally in getting the right tools into the hands of frontline deputies and police officers countywide through the CAL-ID Program, including Live Scan, Mobile ID, and emerging biometric tools like iris scan and facial recognition.
There were a total of 59 homicides in 2013. Part of the increase over 2012 is attributed to a rise in domestic violence incidents which too often resulted in homicide. In 2012 there were 10 domestic incidents which resulted in homicide, while in 2013 there were 23 such incidents. It is important to note that domestic violence incidents include murder/suicide, child abuse, and conflicts involving spouses, domestic partners or siblings within a domestic setting. If not for the rise of such incidents, the homicide rate for areas for which the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has jurisdiction would have actually decreased from 2012 to 2013. Other areas of increase were seen in gang and drug activity, which saw rises of 30% and 43% respectively.
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