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By Jorge Casuso
October 20, 2020 -- Reports of serious crime in Santa Monica dropped by about 16 percent last year, following a dramatic rise each year since 2014, according to data collected by the FBI.
In 2019, reports of serious crimes in the city dropped to 4,628 after rising from 3,364 to 5,529 incidents reported over the previous four years, according to an analysis of FBI crime data by the Lookout.
Reports of violent crime -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults -- dropped from 797 in 2018 to 664 last year, a 17 percent decrease.
Property crimes -- burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft and arson -- also dropped during the same period, from 4,732 to 3,964, a 16 percent decrease.
Despite last year's sudden drop, reports of serious crime in Santa Monica have increased by 38 percent since 2014, with reports of violent crime nearly doubling from 338 to 664, a 96 percent increase.
Reports of property crimes increased by 938 during the same period, from 3,026 reported incidents in 2014 to 3,964 last year, a 33 percent hike.
In 2019, larceny/theft accounted for the largest number of reported crimes, totaling 3,143, down from 3,834 the previous year.
There were 244 reports of motor vehicle theft last year, up from 235 in 2018, marking the only category that saw an increase.
There were 557 burglaries reported in the beach city last year, down from 662. The data posted on the FBI's website did not list the number of reported arsons.
Among violent crimes, reported incidents of murder and non-negligent manslaughter dropped from seven to three, rapes dropped from 60 to 40, robberies dropped from 278 to 247 and aggravated assaults dropped from 452 to 374.
Santa Monica's 16 percent drop in the number of serious crimes reported last year was steeper than the 3.6 percent decrease nationwide.
The drop comes after reports of serious crimes in Santa Monica had held fairly steady for the five years between 2010 and 2014, before seeing a sudden rise, with reported crimes continuing to spike until last year's drop.
Police officials attribute the sudden drop to policies and strategies implemented by outgoing Chief Cynthia Renaud after she took over the force in April 2018.
Renaud -- who came under fire for the rioting that swept through Santa Monica May 31 -- announced Friday she was retiring effective October 26 ("Santa Monica Police Chief to Retire," October 16, 2020).
Former Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, who headed the department from 2012 to 2017, will assume the post on October 26 on an interim basis ("Outgoing Police Chief Gets Big Payout, Former Chief Returns," October 16, 2020)..
Last year's significant drop in reported crimes, however, doesn't seem to have made Santa Monica residents feel safer ("Poll Shows Lack of Support for Council Incumbents," October 2, 2020).
A poll conducted for Eyes on Local 11 last month found that 49.46 percent of the 305 likely voters surveyed felt less safe in Santa Monica than they did two years ago.
Only 13.51 percent said they felt more safe, while 28.92 percent said they felt the same. Of the remainder, 6.49 percent were undecided and 1.62 percent refused to answer.
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