Violent crime rises in California, U.S. – but is still low compared to past

Other notable data from the FBI crime statistics for 2015:

• Patton State Hospital, a mental health facility near Highland, reported 566 violent crimes: 559 aggravated assaults and seven rapes.

• Cal State San Bernardino reported two rapes, five robberies, one aggravated assault and 104 property crimes.

• UC Riverside reported three rapes, six robberies, one aggravated assault and 291 property crimes.

• San Bernardino City Unified School District reported three rapes, six robberies, 60 aggravated assaults, 362 property crimes, 134 burglaries, 201 larcenies, 27 motor vehicle thefts and three arsons.

Violent crimes increased in California and across the nation in the last year but continue to remain well below historic peaks, according to FBI data released Monday.

Murder increased nearly 11 percent nationwide. In California, it was 9.5 percent, according to data provided by local law enforcement agencies to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which compiles data on murders, aggravated assault, car thefts and other crimes.

UC Irvine Professor Charis Kubrin, of the department of criminology, law and society, cautioned that the numbers may look alarming but “there’s no evidence of a national homicide wave.”

Instead, crime trends have held steady, she said.

“It is important to remember that at the end of the day, even with this increase, we are still lower than 30 years ago,” Kubrin said. “In California, if you look at major cities with populations over 400,000, the state has fared pretty well.”

Los Angeles, for example, saw an uptick in 2015 in murders from the year before, but the rate has remained at seven murders per 100,000 residents. By comparison, Kubrin noted, the murder rate in Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and other cities is much higher.

A study released last week by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law analyzed crime data from the 30 largest cities in 2015 and found that crime overall remained the same as in 2014, but murder had increased by 14 percent. Three cities — Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — were responsible for half of that increase.

Nationwide, agencies reported a nearly 4 percent increase in the number of violent crimes and a 2.6 percent decrease in the estimated number of property crimes for 2015, compared to the previous year.

California’s violent and property crime rates increased by about 8 percent each in 2015 compared with 2014.

“It is not uncommon for crime rates to ‘bounce around’ a bit, and given that we remain at historically low levels of crime, I wouldn’t be too concerned,” George Tita, a UC Irvine professor of criminology, law and society, said in an email.

In California, the rate per 100,000 people increased to 426.3 from 396.1 for violent crimes.

The FBI statistics, in some cases, painted an incomplete picture of crime in the Inland Empire.

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The FBI website listed 18 homicides in San Bernardino County in 2015. However, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller said those represented only homicides in unincorporated areas and did not include homicides in cities patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department under contract.

The state Attorney General listed 109 homicides in San Bernardino County in 2015 and 110 in 2014. The city of San Bernardino reported 44 to the FBI in 2015.

The FBI website also listed 12 homicides in Riverside County “as reported by the sheriff’s office or county police department.”

The state Attorney General’s office listed 87 homicides in the county in 2015 and 93 in 2014. The FBI said Riverside and Hemet each had 10.

Overall, crime in sheriff-patrolled areas of Riverside County climbed 7.4 percent in 2015 over 2014, according to the sheriff’s department.

Violent crime — homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — increased 6.6 percent in Riverside County’s unincorporated areas and in 17 cities that contract with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement.

In San Bernardino, violent crime increased 5.4 percent in 2015, according to data from Sheriff John McMahon’s annual report.

McMahon added a fifth homicide team in August 2015 to investigate deaths and follow up on leads.

In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the most common crime, larceny, increased more than 10 percent in 2015 over 2014, according to the state Attorney General.

The number of violent crimes reported in Riverside increased by 4 percent, and by 3.7 percent in Ontario. Property crimes in those cities increased by 6.8 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

In this year’s report, FBI Director James Comey said the agency is working toward developing a database chronicling incidents of police use of force.

Staff writers Brian Rokos, Joshua Sudock and Jeff Collins contributed to this report.

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