United States

Violent Crime Spiked in Bay Area Cities in 2016: FBI Report

Violent crime was on the rise in the Bay Area last year, exceeding the nationwide increase by a longshot, according to an annual crime report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

While the violent crime rate across the U.S. rose by about 4 percent in 2016, the rate in some Bay Area cities spiked by double-digit percentages, including a near 25 percent surge in Fremont and a more than 14 percent rise in San Jose, the report showed.

Berkeley and Hayward also saw significant jumps in violent crimes, at 13.6 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively.

San Jose officials said they are still trying analyze much of the data in the FBI report. Some say cities like San Jose see a spike because there aren't enough cops on the street. But others, say the tough-on-crime approach may not be working.

Greg Woods, who teaches criminal justice at San Jose State University, says he has big concerns about the FBI's data.

"In the South Bay and San Jose, for example, last year we had more homicides than we have experienced in more than a quarter-century," Woods said.

San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco said there has been an effort to beef up staffing on the city's police force, which has struggled with shortages. But she admits increased patrols won't do it alone.

"If the numbers have gone up, it's also not as surprising when you also consider that we have had a police department that has been incredibly understaffed," Carrasco said.

The vice mayor wants to see more done in terms of prevention and education. including increasing programs that build trust with the community.

"We are talking about preventative measures, such as making sure that children stay in school, that children who are struggling that we give them that support that they so desperately need," she said.

Meanwhile, some blame the increase in violent crimes in part on legislation like Proposition 47 and AB109 that allow early release for some criminals. But Woods said smarter policing will lead to better policing. That includes considering more community policing programs, which he says can be hugely successful in preventing crime.

"If we merely respond to crime as opposed to taking active steps to prevent the crime, then we will continue to experience increased rates of crime," he said.

The San Jose Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the FBI data.

San Jose leaders also expressed concern with the increase in violence against women and say more will be done in the field as well.

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