Crime statistics explained by Sheriff's Dept.
Last updated 6/5/2008 at Noon
Members of the greater Fallbrook community packed the room at Zion Lutheran Church’s multipurpose center on May 27 and listened to speakers from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The meeting, hosted by the Fallbrook Citizens’ Crime Prevention Committee, allowed law enforcement speakers to impart information to the attendees on crime rates, trends of local criminals and a basic overview of the workings of the Sheriff’s Department.
“Crime is everywhere and we are not immune from that,” said Lieutenant Alex Dominguez, commander of the Fallbrook Substation. “This is a safe community, folks, and it is filled with great people.”
Although many have suggested that crime is on the rise overall, Dominguez claimed that, comparatively speaking and according to the statistics, this is not the case.
In 2007, it was undisputed that there was a 29-percent increase in the violent crime category. However, in the first quarter of 2008, it was down 30 percent, said Dominguez.
The increase, he explained, represented about 50 additional crimes classified as aggravated assaults, which calculated out to about one crime per week.
“Lots of these types of assaults occur behind closed doors,” explained Dominguez. “It’s very difficult from a law enforcement perspective to prevent these types of crimes.”
An increase in domestic violence in 2007 fell within the aggravated assault category as well.
Another reason for the 29-percent increase, said Dominguez, is that his staff was “more proactive in 2007 than they were in 2006.” He said the community was highly involved and calls to the station were being made.
“Being proactive causes the documentation and classification of crimes,” he said, while encouraging the public to continue reporting incidents to the department.
A shift to a new reporting system in the sheriff’s department also might have played a part in the aggravated assault increase in 2007, he said.
Despite the increase, the Fallbrook percentages are lower than the county average, Dominguez confirmed.
According to Dominguez, the overall crime rates in Fallbrook were lower in 2007 than in 2003. In 2007, the overall crime rate in Fallbrook was 23.74 incidences per every 1,000 people.
That statistic was compared to those in nearby communities:
• Valley Center: 25.62 per 1,000
• Escondido: 35.17 per 1,000
• Oceanside: 31.12 per 1,000
• Vista: 28.16 per 1,000
“The statistics show that we are a safer community today in overall crime rates compared to 2006,” Dominguez said to the audience. “We are working harder and I think part of it comes from the expectations you have of us.”
Undersheriff Bill Gore explained that the San Diego Sheriff’s Department is comprised of 4,000 employees.
“It’s the third largest law enforcement agency in the state of California,” said Gore. Currently, 2,400 sworn employees and 1,600 professional staff members make up the department. “We police for about 900,000 people in San Diego County and I think we provide pretty good coverage.”
Regardless of how many officers are visible at any given time on the streets, Gore said a working partnership with people in the community is vital. “That’s what community policing is all about,” he said.
Another guest speaker, Detective Sergeant Theresa Adams-Hydar, explained how law enforcement is doing their best to teach the public about “target hardening” themselves as individuals, their vehicles and their homes in an effort to lessen the chance of becoming victims.
For example, leaving a vehicle unattended with a laptop computer, iPod, wallet or purse visible inside should be avoided at all times because it invites crime.
“It takes 1.2 seconds for someone to steal these things,” Adams-Hydar said.
Drugs remain a problem and is naturally tied into crime, Adams-Hydar said.
In many instances, drugs make people do things that they normally would not have done, she explained. “They look for people like you to steal from,” she said. “[Robbers] are going for credit cards and jewelry.”
Identity theft is another area of crime rising at an alarming rate.
Target hardening one’s individual home or setting up a Neighborhood Watch program can be done with the complimentary assistance of the Sheriff’s Department’s Crime Prevention Specialist, John McLelland, said Adams-Hydar. “Call us; we’ll come out,” she said. “We’ll find ways to help people try and not become victims of crime.”
Adams-Hydar pointed out that aggravated assaults in Fallbrook have not been situations between strangers.
“That is not what’s happening in this town,” she said. “The recent homicides were in situations where the people knew each other.”
In her opinion, she said, Fallbrook is still a safe town and residents do not need to fear the recent statistics.
To contact Crime Prevention Specialist John McLelland, call (760) 451-3100.