Photo by Dennis Dean.
Despite a low five-year crime average, Long Beach has seen a rise in violent and property crime this year, according to officials with the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD).
In a statement recently posted on the LBPD’s Facebook page, police Chief Robert Luna noted the crime rate in the city and across the state and nation has begun to shift, and LBPD officials anticipate their year-end statistics will reflect an increase in several categories.
He attributed the crime trend to several factors, including socioeconomic issues such as literacy, unemployment, mental illness, and substance abuse.
He also noted the recent changes in the criminal justice system that have reduced some non-violent felony crimes to misdemeanors and have therefore allowed early releases for some.
“Without intervention and prevention services, offenders may continue to violate the law without fear of consequences,” Luna stated. “It is critical that we find a way to address these challenges.”
Between January and November of 2015 there have been 31 murder cases, compared to 21 cases during the same time in 2014, according to the police department’s most recent crime statistics.
Violent crime in general—including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault—rose 12.5 percent in 2015 between January and November, compared to a five-year average with 2,489 cases. In 2014, during the same time, there were 2,050 cases.
There were 12,998 instances of property crime—including burglary, theft and arson—during the past 11 months, compared to 11,309 cases in 2014 during the same time—a 19.4 percent increase comparing 2015 to the last five years.
Nearly 300 shootings have been reported in Long Beach for 2015.
According to a Los Angeles Times article published Wednesday, all categories of crime rose across Los Angeles in 2015, the first time in more than a decade.
Long Beach’s neighbor to the north saw a 19.9 percent increase in violent crime and a 10.3 percent increase in property crime through December 26, compared with the same period last year, according to Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) data.
Luna stated that the police department is committed to finding new and innovative ways to deploy resources and combat crime, specifically through the use of technology, search warrants, gang court orders, juvenile diversion programs, gun seizures and public outreach.
The police chief also called for the public’s help by providing information regarding criminal activity or joining a community watch group.
During a community gathering in response to a brutal home robbery, an LBPD official reminded the public that if they 'see something, say something.'
Police officials have also recommended installing a surveillance camera system and closing all doors and windows as well as removing valuables from the car.
“Now more than ever, we need your help,” Luna stated. “A safe city is everyone’s responsibility. I'm proud of the hard work and dedication our employees demonstrate every day and we look forward to working with you in the year ahead.”
Year-end crime statistics for Long Beach are expected to be released in January 2016.