Rape, violent crime in Berkeley increased in 2017, police report shows

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Ariel Lung/Staff

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Berkeley Police Department released its annual crime report for 2017, which shows increases across the board in most major violent crimes, including rape and aggravated assault.

The report was submitted for the City Council’s special meeting, which will be held Tuesday, by Andrew Greenwood, the chief of police, and sent to the council by City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley.

The report said the city has been negatively impacted by regional crime trends but that BPD works with other agencies to arrest criminals involved in organized crime efforts affecting entire regions. According to the report, there has been an increase in rape, aggravated assault, commercial burglary, larceny and arson. There have been decreases in residential burglary and auto theft.

Robberies remained basically constant with last year’s numbers. The report states that pedestrian robberies have decreased, with a subsequent rise in commercial robberies. The robberies reported this year included a string of laptop thefts, which the report calls a trend from 2017.

“Reported rapes increased 64% in 2017, with 87 reports as compared to 53 in 2016,” the report states. “This increase is a reflection of the nationwide increasing awareness of sexual assault, and a willingness to report sexual assault. We encourage (the) reporting of sexual assault and work to fully investigate each report to the fullest extent possible.”

The data used in the report were from the Uniform Crime Report, or UCR, for which the FBI collected data annually from thousands of enforcement agencies. According to the report, this data allow BPD to assess the effectiveness of its responses to crime and plan how to allocate resources better in the future.

The report also attributed a 42 percent drop in shootings to an investigative focus on punishing the small number of gun violence offenders.

“2017 was a remarkable year for the men and women of the Berkeley Police Department, and focus on our mission of safeguarding and engaging our community was evident throughout our Department’s work in 2017,the report stated, noting specifically the work of the department in handling the large-scale demonstrations of the past year.

BPD declined to comment on the report until it is presented to the City Council and Police Review Commission in the coming weeks.

Kate Tinney is the lead crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @K_Tinney.