Extra Police Prove Effective, Crime Falls

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Police report Laguna Beach experienced a 15 percent drop in violent crime, such as murders, assaults and robbery, and property crimes in 2017.

Of the eight categories broken out, only residential burglaries continue to increase, up by 10 percent last year to 90 break-ins, compared to 82 the previous year and 59 in 2015.

Police say an overall decline in property thefts is directly related to the increased staffing of non-sworn beach patrol officers, which were funded by Measure LL, a voter approved hike in the city’s bed tax in 2016.

Last April, Police Chief Laura Farinella said she expected to see a decline in nuisance crime on beaches due two newly hired full-time beach patrol officers, bringing that staff to four, who joined six more part-time officers in patrolling local beaches. “These once part-time positions are now full-time, providing a much-needed added layer of presence on the beach, which is where we saw the decrease in the crimes,” Chief Laura Farinella said in a statement.

“Folks did report feeling the affects of it and were appreciative,” said Greg O’Loughlin, president of the South Laguna Civic Association. Post-sunset patrols appeared to discourage people from lingering into the night. “The street fights of previous years, we didn’t see any of that,” said O’Loughlin, though beach-goers continue to litter and relieve themselves in residential areas where they park.

Crime statistics are tracked on a yearly basis to evaluate the department’s effectiveness and to identify areas for outreach and enforcement, Capt. Jason Kravetz said in a statement.

Of the 41 violent crimes, 13 involved robbery, 21 were assaults and seven were sex crimes, all categories that declined from the previous year. No homicides occurred in 2017, as was true in the two previous years as well.

Of 471 property crimes, only burglaries showed an increase to 90, eight more than a year earlier. Theft, auto theft and arson categories all declined.

“This is a reminder that we can prevent a majority of property crime by taking the time to properly secure our homes,” Farinella said.

The two categories are known as Part 1 crimes. Vagrancy, driving under the influence and fraud are among other offenses known as Part 2 crimes, which Laguna police did not report.

In neighboring Newport Beach, Part 1 crimes fell 21 percent in 2017 and Part 2 crimes rose 5 percent, an online department report says.

In Laguna Beach, for the second consecutive year no traffic fatalities occurred in town and collisions were down 12 percent, the crime statistics report said.

Total calls for service, about 49,000 for the year, are up 4%, equaling 1,919 additional calls.

Citations are up almost 100%, which police attribute to the additional beach patrol officers enforcing local municipal codes such as no alcohol and glass on the beach.

 

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