Recently released FBI crime data from two-thirds of the nation’s law enforcement agencies show that California’s violent crime rate is significantly diverging from the national trend: in 2022, it will be 31 % higher than the US rate. This disparity is driven mostly by severe assaults, which are decreasing across the country while increasing in California.
It’s worth noting that the FBI is adopting a new crime reporting system in 2021, and many law enforcement agencies across the country have yet to participate; about 60% reported data in 2021 and 69% in 2022. California’s crime statistics appear to line up well with FBI numbers, but this may not be the case in other states where the agency is relatively small. the reporter. Just under half of California law enforcement agencies (49%) reported crime figures for 2022, and the percentages in many other populous states were even lower: 8% in Florida, 9% in Pennsylvania, and 24% in New York.
When we look at trends since 2010, we see that California’s violent crime rate roughly mirrors the nationwide trend in the decade before the pandemic. The California-US violent crime gap widened from 10% to 15% in 2015, partly due to an adjustment in Los Angeles Police Department reporting after the agency found underreporting of aggravated crimes. attacks from 2008 to 2014. During the pandemic, however, the gap grew from 15% in 2019 to 31% in 2022. Not very interesting but noticeable, while property crime increased in the country and in California in 2022, nationwide it has decreased by 8% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while in California it is now 1% higher.
This gap is primarily driven by more attacks. Before the pandemic, the aggravated assault rate in California was 6% higher than the national rate. California and the nation saw an increase in 2020. However, the national aggravated assault rate decreased in 2021 and 2022, while California’s rate was 25% higher in 2022 than in 2019. As a result , the gap between California and the nation widened by 24%.
The difference between California and the US is not as significant in other violent crime categories. Robbery rates will be lower in 2022 than in 2019 at 6% in California and 19% nationwide; California sees slight increases in 2021 and 2022, while national rates continue their longer-term decline. In contrast, California’s homicide and rape rates have followed national standards in recent years and have remained below national rates for the past decade.
If we look at county-level data from the California Department of Justice (DOJ), we can see that the recent increase in aggravated assaults can be seen in both urban and rural counties across the state. Of California’s 58 counties, 45 experienced increases between 2019 and 2022. Prices rose by at least 10% in 40 counties, while 34 counties saw increases of 20% or more. yet and the rates increased by at least 30% in 28 provinces.
Of the state’s 15 largest counties, the largest percentage increases in aggravated assaults were in Orange County and San Mateo (74% and 65% respectively); despite these jumps, these counties have two of the lowest violent crime rates in the state. The rates jumped 61% in Fresno, 46% in Alameda, and 43% in Sacramento. San Joaquin was the only large county with a decrease (10%). The smallest rural counties (those with a population of less than 100,000 residents) saw an increase of 31%.
There are some important caveats. While California’s 13% violent crime rate increase appears to be in line with nationwide numbers, there are double-digit increases in eight other states, including Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Louisiana , and Arkansas. Additionally, as noted above, recent changes to the FBI’s crime reporting systems and the subsequent incomplete involvement of the law enforcement agency make comparisons with states that are not very reliable. We also don’t know if the transition from a so-called hierarchical reporting system—where the most serious violation for a crime incident is reported—to a new system that captures multiple violations for an incident that produces the same crime statistics.
However, California’s DOJ data shows a gradual increase in violent crime, driven by more assaults, began before the FBI changes took place. Aggravated assault rates have increased in six of the eight years since 2014, for a total increase of about 39% (32% if the LAPD is excluded).
It is not clear what factors are contributing to the troubling increase in extreme attacks. A reduction in police personnel (3,600 fewer sworn officers statewide in the past two years) and a decline in the prison and jail population (down by 42,000, or 21%, since 2019) may contributed. Additional behavioral health challenges, such as substance use and mental health, may play a role. More broadly, rising social and economic challenges, such as an increase in state homelessness—to 6% between 2020 and 2022, compared to 0.4% in the rest of the country—will also be factors. cause. Research that can provide policymakers and stakeholders with a better understanding of the underlying causes is needed to address this worrisome trend.