California Sees Rise in Violent Crime, Homicides

California Attorney General Rob Bonta released a report last week showing a notable rise in homicides across California.

In 2021, there were 2,361 reported homicides – a 7.2% increase from the previous year, but well below the state’s historical high of 4,095 homicides in 1993. Kern, Merced, and Tulare counties saw the highest murder rates. The lowest murder rates were in the counties of Placer, San Luis Obispo, and Marin. In 2021, 75% of California homicides involved the use of a firearm.

“While crime rates remain significantly below their historical highs, property and violent crimes continue to have devastating consequences for communities across the state,” said Bonta. “Gun violence in particular remains a consistent and growing threat. In fact, in 2021, nearly three-fourths of all homicides in California involved a firearm. As we confront these ongoing challenges, we must have accountability and appropriate consequences for those who break the law. Accurate statistics and the data in the annual crime reports are a critical part of calibrating our response, ensuring policymakers and law enforcement are able to make informed decisions. At the California Department of Justice, we’re using every tool we have to prevent violence and combat crime in all its forms. Whether it’s successfully securing federal certification of our data systems or taking guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, my office remains committed to doing our part to support safety and security for all Californians.”

Homicides aren’t the only type of crime on the rise. California’s overall violent crime rate rose 6.7% from 2020 to 2021 and the property crime rate rose 3%. However, arrests are down 7.3%. Since 2004, arrest rates have declined by 51.6%. In 2021, the total number of adults on active probation also reached the lowest level since 1980 and the total number of full-time criminal justice personnel fell 2.7%.


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