Santa Monica saw 147 fewer serious crimes in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year, an almost eight percent drop according to numbers provided by the Santa Monica Police Department
The decrease in part one crimes, which include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, thefts and arson, comes one year after Cynthia Renaud was sworn in as Santa Monica Police Department’s chief of police. Since last May, Renaud has launched several efforts to address the 29 percent increase in part one crimes between 2015 and 2018, including hiring 20 new police officers, putting more officers on patrol and establishing a unit dedicated to tracking and responding to crime trends.
“Every resident in this city should be seeing police officers throughout their day,” Renaud told the Daily Press shortly after she stepped into her role as chief of police. “They should see a black and white driving up and down their street.”
The reduction in part one crimes in 2019 may be the first indication that Renaud’s strategies are working.
SMPD’s crime analysis unit recorded 1,891 serious crimes between Jan. 1 and May 14 of 2018 and 1,744 this year, a decrease from about 14 to 13 per day.
If the trend continues, 2019 could be the first year that serious crime has fallen in at least five years after reaching a low in 2013. It could also put Santa Monica on par with Los Angeles, where crime was down in almost every category last year for the first time in five years.
Renaud’s approach over the past year has been to hire more officers, analyze crime trends and concentrate on problem areas, such as the city’s parks and downtown.
The department has hired 20 new officers after operating with a shortage of officers for several years as longtime officers retired.
“We’re deploying those personnel into field-based units and getting more officers on patrol and out of their cars in neighborhoods and business districts,” Renaud said in January. “We’re moving more mounted units into our parks and open spaces.”
The department’s homeless liaison team now patrols beaches, parks and open spaces every day and public safety officers have been deployed downtown and in parks, Renaud said.
The department is also targeting problem areas, including parking areas and even restaurants. The City of Santa Monica ordered a downtown McDonald’s to close overnight in November 2018 because it had become a hotbed for crime. In response to a surge in vehicle burglaries, SMPD has deployed contracted security guards to patrol dark and secluded parking areas and has added lighting and CCTV cameras to garages.