Reports: California homicides, violent crime rose in 2021

Aug 25, 2022, 2:54 AM | Updated: 6:15 pm
crime fentanyl...
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homicides in California increased 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.

Three Bonta opponents in the June primary all tried to make an issue of rising crime and the Democrat’s support for criminal justice reforms when he was in the Legislature. Bonta still advanced with nearly 60% of the vote in heavily Democratic California. But his Republican opponent in November’s general election — Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor and former assistant U.S. attorney general — has continued criticizing Bonta on crime.

The new numbers “reflect what Californians have been experiencing every day: a spiral of lawlessness,” Hochman said.

Bonta’s reports noted that the current number of homicides and the violent crime rate remain significantly below historical highs set in the early 1990s, while the property crime rate is far below its historical high in 1980. But Hochman said that comparison “demonstrates how out of touch he is with the suffering of victims across the state today.”

Bonta was in San Diego on Thursday to tout the state’s tough gun control laws, which he says are keeping homicides from being worse.

“We all know the gun violence epidemic plaguing communities across our nation is sickening and it’s unacceptable,” Bonta said, without addressing the increase in homicides and violent crime in his office’s reports.

He added: “You are less likely to get shot and killed in California than in Texas, than in Florida, than in nearly every other state in the nation because of our common-sense gun laws.”

The red states are also favorite targets of Newsom, who is overwhelmingly favored to beat little-known Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle in November. But Newsom also is seen as a potential White House candidate and high crime at home would be an inviting target for opponents.

Thursday’s reports came two months after Bonta’s department wrongly made public the personal information of perhaps hundreds of thousands of gun owners in state-operated databases. The state’s criminal justice data portal was offline for weeks in the aftermath and only relaunched Thursday after the 2021 reports were released.

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.

Three-quarters of 2021’s homicides involved a firearm, and more than eight in 10 of the victims were male. Nearly half of the people killed last year were Hispanic and nearly 30% were Black. By contrast, about 5% of the state’s population is Black and about 39% Latino, according to the 2020 census.

About 40% were killed by strangers, 40% by friends or acquaintances and the remainder by a relative — a spouse, parent or child, the reports state. More than half of women were killed in a residence, while more than 40% of male victims died on the street.

“Today’s report further solidifies what decades of research have shown: More guns on our streets leads to more gun violence; and community safety is inextricably tied to economic, racial, and social equity,” said Anne Irwin, founder and executive director of Smart Justice California, in a statement.

The state’s 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.

Bonta’s office also released a report showing a continued drop in arrests of juveniles, which have plummeted in recent years — from nearly 63,000 in 2016 to fewer than 20,000 last year.

A final report outlined police use of force, though changes in reporting prevent ready comparisons to previous years. Last year 660 civilians were involved in such incidents that resulted in the discharge of a firearm or a use of force that brought serious injury or death. By racial breakdown, half were of Hispanic origin, one-quarter white and about 17% Black people.


Thompson reported from Sacramento, California.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this July 3, 2014, file photo, the Microsoft Corp. logo is displayed outside the Microsof...
Associated Press

Microsoft adds AI tools to Office apps like Outlook, Word

Microsoft is infusing artificial intelligence tools into its Office software, including Word, Excel and Outlook emails.
3 days ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey shows the Tanag...
Associated Press

Alaska volcanoes now pose lower threat, after quakes slow

Diminished earthquake activity led authorities Thursday to reduce the warning levels at two volcanoes on an uninhabited island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain because of the decreased potential for eruptions.
3 days ago
A television screen displaying financial news is seen inside one of First Republic Bank's branches ...
Associated Press

Big banks create $30B rescue package for First Republic

NEW YORK (AP) — Eleven of the biggest U.S. banks Thursday announced a $30 billion rescue package for First Republic Bank in an effort to prevent it from becoming the third to fail in less than a week and head off a broader banking crisis. San Francisco-based First Republic serves a similar clientele as Signature […]
4 days ago
A pedestrian carries an umbrella while walking past a Silicon Valley Bank Private branch in San Fra...
Associated Press

Experts, banks look for ideas to stop next bank failure

The warning signs were all there. Silicon Valley Bank was expanding at a breakneck pace and pursuing wildly risky investments in the bond market. The vast majority of its deposits were uninsured by the federal government, leaving its customers exposed to a crisis.
4 days ago
FILE - Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York, Feb. 2...
Associated Press

What can ChatGPT maker’s new AI model GPT-4 do?

The company behind the ChatGPT chatbot has rolled out its latest artificial intelligence model, GPT-4, in the next step for a technology that’s caught the world's attention.
4 days ago
Lumber is stored in the yard at East Coast Lumber, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Hampstead, N.H. On We...
Christopher Rugaber, Associated Press

US wholesale inflation fell last month on lower food costs

Wholesale price increases in the United States slowed sharply last month as food and energy costs declined, a sign that inflationary pressures may be easing.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Reports: California homicides, violent crime rose in 2021