Berkeley Police Department data from the first six months of 2014 show a drop in rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, driving down overall violent crime by 44 percent compared to the same time period last year.
The police department’s midyear report, released by BPD Chief Michael Meehan, details crime statistics from January through June and will be presented at Berkeley City Council’s Sept. 16 meeting. The report attributes the decline in violent crime to strategies such as utilizing robbery suppression teams, initiating crime alerts to the community through the website Nixle and expanding crisis intervention training for officers to handle those facing mental health episodes.
Violent crime information collected by the FBI from law enforcement agencies includes homicides, rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies. In the police department’s report, each violent-crime offense is given the same weight when calculating overall changes in crime, meaning that a murder, for instance, is not assigned a higher magnitude than a robbery.
The drop in robberies from the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of last year — 221 to 108 — was the primary factor behind the 44 percent decline in violent crime. The department recently implemented strategies such as suppression teams to combat robberies during peak hours in certain areas.
Comparing the same two time periods, aggravated assaults decreased from 60 to 45 instances. The number of reported rapes, too, declined from 18 to 14 cases. The rapes reported to Berkeley police were those between acquaintances.
The city’s police department stepped up its collaboration with UCPD this year, working together on rape prevention and coordinating bicycle patrols on Telegraph Avenue.
During the first half of this year, Berkeley saw one homicide within city limits, the murder of Sylvan Fuselier. During the first six months of 2013, there was also just one homicide case. Another three homicides rattled the city in the second half of last year.
Property crimes showed mixed changes from the first six months of last year to the same period this year. Burglaries declined from 479 to 410, and larcenies dropped from 1,860 to 1,678. Auto thefts, however, increased from 293 to 304. Arsons, which are not considered property crimes, declined from eight to six cases.