The latest crime statistics released by the Hollister Police Department show a decrease in violent crime and an increase in property crimes locally. The Unified Crime Report that lists the number of crimes by category committed from 2010 to 2015 includes the following categories: homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny (theft), and auto theft.
These categories are listed because they are crimes most likely to be reported and crimes that occur with sufficient frequency to be of value on a comparison basis.
The reports are generated after receiving crime statistics from police departments throughout the country. The Uniform Crime Reporting law enforcement program gathers the information, compiles the data and releases the report in order to provide a nationwide glimpse of crime. Each agency reports on a monthly basis to the California Department of Justice. This information is then forwarded to the FBI, which then publishes its annual Uniform Crime Report.
Using the statistics, Hollister Police Chief David Westrick said his office is working on the annual report that will include the overall statistics as well as a wrap-up of departmental achievements to present to the city council. He said there a number of things became apparent in the report.
“There has been a steady drop in violent crime,” he said. “In 2010 we were trying to escape the meltdown of the market in 2008. From 2008 through 2010 it (property crime) was pretty high, which is not unusual. When the economy is down property crime goes up. There has been a slight increase in property crime over last year and what I attribute that to is pretty much the reduction of a lot of burglary and theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors through Proposition 47.”
He said that up until the passing of the state proposition, a number of crimes for which arrests would be made were reduced to being given a ticket. In essence, by changing felonies to misdemeanors some in law enforcement contend that felonies are still being committed, they’re just not called felonies any longer.
Prop. 47 is a referendum passed by voters in Nov. 2014 that converts many nonviolent offenses, such as drug and property offenses, from felonies to misdemeanors. Supporters refer to it as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” and the smart thing to do. Some who oppose it refer to it as the, “get-out-of-jail-free card.”
“I don’t have a real good handle on why thefts have gone up, but they’ve gone up state-wide, as well,” Chief Westrick said. “Another anomaly is auto theft, which went up 57 percent and larceny went up 28 percent, but burglaries went down 39 percent. Again, I think you can attribute that to Proposition 47.”
The rationale is that because theft or larceny is now a misdemeanor, some criminals have switched from burglaries to larceny. The math would seem to indicate that burglaries are still being committed, but they’re just different crimes.
Westrick said an important statistic from the report reflects the department’s increased concentration on traffic safety.
“We didn’t have the staff to be proactive with traffic safety,” he said. “Over the last two years we’ve added school resource officers and one of their responsibilities is traffic safety at all school sites. We’ve also added patrol positions and that has increase traffic citations by 55 percent, going from 1,200 (tickets) to 2,200 in 2015. If you look over a three-year period we’ve gone up 106 percent. I believe that if we can do more traffic enforcement and start changing behaviors then we should have, overall, safer roadways in the city.”
Westrick said he believes the department needs to concentrate even more on traffic offenses.
“When you stop traffic for vehicle violations sometimes you discover other crimes,” he said. “It’s an important tool.”
Some statistics from the report:
According to the report, in 2015 there were no homicides in Hollister. Sixteen rapes were reported; 19 robberies; 327 assaults; 117 burglaries; 316 cases of larceny; and 96 auto thefts, for a total 891 crimes, representing 26 more crimes committed than in 2014.
For the year, there were 2,628 traffic offenses: 2,223 moving violations, 189 DUI’s, and 216 accidents.
There were arrests of 1,358 adults and 210 juveniles, for 1,568 total arrests, or 72 more than in 2014.
The crime rate index for the city is 24.1 (891 crimes divide by population of 37,000 x 1,000), a slight increase from 2014 of just 0.7, but lower than the previous five years. The violent crime rate for Hollister in 2015 was 9.8, lower than 2014 by 0.1. With 529 property crimes, the crime rate was 14.3.
To see the entire Unified Crime Report: http://hollister.ca.gov/government/city-departments/police/crime-statistics/.