LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homicides in California rose again last year — as did other violent crimes — amid rising frustration as the state's top Democrats are seeking to keep their jobs in upcoming elections.
The state Department of Justice released its annual crime reports Thursday, showing upticks in violent crime and property crime rates in 2021 even as the total arrest rate decreased.
Californians across the state have been deluged with headlines about rising crime in recent months, from rampant car break-ins and drug use in San Francisco's troubled Tenderloin district to street racing and illegal takeovers across a new $588-million bridge in Los Angeles.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta are among the Democrats facing challengers in November and are struggling to explain how their policies are keeping the state safe. San Francisco's progressive district attorney was ousted from his post in June, and his counterpart in LA just survived a second recall attempt.
“We all know the gun violence epidemic plaguing communities across our nation is sickening and it’s unacceptable,” Bonta said Monday without addressing the increase in homicides and violent crime in his office’s reports.
Bonta was in San Diego Monday to tout the state’s tough gun control laws, which he says are keeping homicides from being worse. He contrasted California's gun laws with those in red states like Florida and Texas — also favorite targets of Newsom.
There were 2,361 homicides in the California last year, surpassing 2020's figure by more than 150 deaths, according to the reports. While the number remains far below the historic high — 4,095 homicides in 1993 — last year was the deadliest year since 2007.
The violent crime rate increased from 437 per 100,000 people in 2020 to 466.2 per 100,000 in 2021. The property crime rate ticked up 3% in 2021 after hitting a historic low in 2020.
Meanwhile, the total arrest rate decreased — from 2,812.3 per 100,000 people in 2020 to 2,606.3 per 100,000 in 2021 — as part of a downward trend since 2004.