The crime report presented at a special workshop of the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night showed a consistent decrease in part one crimes, the serious crimes tracked by annual statistics. Since 2006, part one crime in Berkeley has been reduced by 19%. Within that, violent crime is down 18% and property crime down 19%.
“Every time we receive these reports, I’m stunned and delighted because for eight-and-a-half years we’ve seen crime drop significantly,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington at the meeting. “It’s an astounding achievement. We should give some kind of positive reward to the a police department that achieves such astonishing results.”
The encouraging trend has continued into the first quarter of this year (see table above). Violent crime is about level with last year, but Captain Cynthia Harris told the City Council that 2010 was “an abnormally low year for robberies”. The current year is “still low for us”, even though robberies have increased from 64 in 2010 to 79 this year, according to Harris. The reduction is property crime has been particularly steep in the first quarter. The exception to the trend is arson, but Harris pointed out that the 60% increase is on very few incidents. None of them have been serious.
The crime report presentation also included a focus on two crime series that the Berkeley Police Department solved successfully. The first, dubbed the Silver Revolver Series, was cracked by arrests of nine suspects on December 12 last year. One suspect was charged with with 12 Berkeley robberies and multiple robberies in other cities (see map, right, with the 12 Berkeley robberies). Another two series were highlighted, both involving juvenile crime. In one series, 21 burglaries were related to five juveniles, in the other 17 burglaries were related to another group of five juveniles.
In the middle of the praise from councilmembers for the declining crime rates, Gordon Wozniak did raise one issue. “All areas of the city are not equally safe,” he said. “How do we make areas of the city that have higher crime rates more safe?”
Lt. Andy Greenwood also told the council that the BPD had completed implementation of its suite of public safety software. The final element, which allows for field reporting into the system, went live last month. Greenwood said the new system allows rapid access to reports, improves data accuracy and expands the department’s reporting capabilities.