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Local News

Santa Barbara Crime Rate Drops

The police chief says tougher anti-gang enforcement and the city's focus on youths are making a difference.

In a presentation on Thursday before the Santa Barbara City Council, Police Chief Cam Sanchez announced that the serious-crime rate fell dramatically last year, especially when compared with a five-year average.

Sanchez cited the Part-One crime statistics, widely relied on as an accurate indicator of overall crime activity. Part-One crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, auto theft, aggravated assault and larceny. Citywide, the 2007 Part-One crime rate dropped 3.5 percent compared with 2006, and fell a dramatic 10.4 percent compared with the previous five-year average. All law enforcement agencies are required to submit their Part-One crime statistics to the state, which releases a comprehensive report of statewide crime trends and statistics. As a comparison, the state of California Part-One crime rate rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006 (the most current statistics available).

Citywide, 3,375 Part-One crimes were reported to the Santa Barbara Police Department in 2007. The five-year average was 3,847, with 2003 leading the way with 4,375. Sanchez, although pleased with the significant improvement, says much more needs to be done. He says the reduction is largely because of increased anti-gang enforcement coupled with a communitywide emphasis on turning young people away from a path of crime and gang life.

“Unlike some other communities, Santa Barbara has the resources, the commitment and the will to make a difference in young people’s lives,” Sanchez said. “We’re showing them that they do have choices, and better choices will lead to better lives.”

Paul McCaffrey is a lieutenant with the

Santa Barbara Police Department

.

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