Claremont crime on the increase, some blame Prop 47

The specter of Proposition 47 loomed over the 2015 Claremont Police Department annual report, which noted an increase in nearly every crime category during the previous year.

The report, placed in the consent calendar during the July 26 city council meeting, outlined crime stats and traffic collisions in Claremont throughout the 2015 calendar year. According to the stats in the report, nearly every type of crime experienced an increase in 2015, save for robbery and arson.

Thefts once again accounted for the majority of crimes in Claremont and increased by 67 incidents within a year, from 607 in 2014 to 674 in 2015. Aggravated assaults increased to 36 in 2015, compared to 18 in 2014; burglaries rose to 249 in 2015, compared to 205 in 2014; motor vehicle thefts increased from 41 in 2014 to 62 in 2015 and rapes increased by 7 in the past year, from 5 reported in 2014 to 12 reported in 2015.

Robbery decreased by one, with 15 reported in 2015 compared to 16 in 2014. There was a single arson in 2015, compared to six in 2014. One homicide occurred in 2015, the first in the city since 2010.

In all, a total of 1,050 Part I crimes were reported in 2015, compared to 898 in 2014, representing an increase of 17 percent, the report stated. It’s the highest amount of Part I crimes reported in the city since 2008, when 1,146 crimes were logged.

The department cited Proposition 47 as a catalyst for the uptick in crime, not just in Claremont, but across the state. Prop 47, passed by voters in November 2014, reduced some mandatory drug felonies to misdemeanors, and turned petty thefts with a total value below $950 to misdemeanors.

“While the supporters of Prop 47 say it’s too early to tell if the crime increases are a result of this voter-approved initiative, the California Police Chief’s Association has been tracking the Part I crimes in California and is comparing those with other states,” Chief Paul Cooper wrote. “The results are that other states are continuing to experience the low crime rates that we’ve seen over the last decade across the nation, while California’s crime is increasing.”

Traffic accidents also increased in 2015, according to statistics outlined in the report. Overall collisions totaled 339 in 2015, compared to 260 in 2014. This included 164 non-injury collisions, 174 injury collisions and one fatal accident.

DUI collisions experienced an uptick as well, with 24 reported in 2015, as opposed to 13 in 2014.

Jail bookings also experienced an increase in 2015, with 1,814 suspects booked in 2015—1,768 adults and 46 juveniles—compared to 1,683 in 2014. The vast majority of those booked were men—1,365 compared to 449 women spent a little time in the Claremont jail in 2015.

Diving further into jail stats, 809 suspects were booked for misdemeanors, 769 for warrants and 236 for felonies, the report noted.

The report also noted internal moves within the department. Four new police officers were added to the force in 2015: Savannah Thompson, Rick Hawkins, Ben Alba and Matt Morales. An additional K9 unit, Luther, was brought in as an expert on patrol and explosives.

Brandon Rankin was promoted to senior jailer in 2015 after the retirement of Randy Santee following 20 years of service.

The city has undertaken a “see something, say something” initiative to get the word out to residents about how to remain vigilant. Electronic signs across the city have been emblazoned with the slogan for a few weeks.

The city also sent mailers to residents informing them of crime increases, complete with a “see something, say something” magnet, the report stated.

“Our goal in the coming year will be to continue to focus efforts on impacting crime wherever possible and educating the community on how they can play an important role in these efforts,” Chief Cooper wrote in what will be his last annual crime report as Claremont’s top cop.

Chief Cooper, who announced his retirement at the end of last year, offered some final thoughts about his decades-long career in the City of Trees.

“Claremont will have a new police chief in 2016 as I retire after more than 30 years of service. Claremont is my home, where I grew up, raised a family and will continue to live,” the chief shared. “It is bittersweet, but it’s time for a new face with new ideas to take the helm of one of the greatest law enforcement agencies I know, staffed by outstanding employees who really care about the community.”

—Matthew Bramlett


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