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Newsom calls Kern 'murder capital', but how do homicide rates compare across the state?

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Posted at 7:21 AM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 13:11:05-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Governor Gavin Newsom revealed his Real Public Safety Plan Friday, a $350 million crime-fighting effort he plans to send to the state legislature next month. The plan focuses heavily on organized retail theft, but that’s not what brought the governor’s attention to Kern County during the press conference.

“It’s interesting the murder capital, tragically, is Kern County,” the governor said during the Q&A after the press briefing. While his time spent talking about Kern was brief, he said a lot.

Kern County has increased in homicides rates once again after 2020 saw a devastating 136 homicides. This year, Kern has already surpassed that number.

Compared to other counties, Kern’s homicide numbers aren’t the most. But when you compare the rate of homicide per 100,000 people, Kern County tops the charts this year.

“It’s not a red or blue issue. This is a serious moment; gun violence in this country is a serious issue,” Newsom said.

According to the California Department of Justice’s records, Kern has seen an increase in homicide rates since 2006. Now it's more than double its homicide rate since 2011. Back then the rate was 5.4 per 100,000. In 2020 the rate is 12.7.

Comparatively, California DOJ’s records show other larger counties have seen the opposite trend. Counties like Los Angeles and San Francisco had homicide rates of 10.3 and 11 per 100,000 people in 2006. Yet in 2020, both saw a significant decrease in rates.

Meanwhile surrounding counties like Fresno, San Bernadino, and Tulare have seen some fluctuation in homicide rates over the years, however none quite as dramatic as the increase in Kern’s rates.

“Our goal is to address the issue of gun violence which has significantly increased, I mean, look at the statistics,” Newsom said.

Newsom looking to provide additional funding to police and prosecutors in his latest budget and looks to create a law allowing private citizens the ability to sue manufacturers and distributors of unlawful assault weapons.

“As many of you know, California has experienced a remarkable budget surplus, that allows us to do things that in the past we’ve been unable to do," Newsom said.

According to the 23ABC Homicide Tracker, Kern County has had 138 homicides in 2021 with less than two weeks left in the year.