Violent crime in Berkeley increased by 23 percent in 2017, according to new FBI data that compared reports from the first half of 2016 to the same time period in 2017.
The FBI report covered cities across the United States, including 73 cities in California. Of violent crime increases in California cities, Berkeley’s was one of the largest, even as crime in Berkeley has sharply declined over the past decade, according to a message to the community from Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín on Friday.
Berkeley’s numbers stand out, especially compared to the rest of the Bay Area region. San Francisco saw a 3 percent increase in violent crime, while San Jose’s numbers were essentially flat. Oakland experienced a 6 percent reduction in violent crime. Richmond trailed Berkeley with an 8 percent increase.
Berkeley reported zero homicides, 27 rapes and 84 aggravated assaults in the first half of 2016, and in the first half of 2017, those numbers rose to one, 39 and 102, respectively. The numbers of reported robberies, burglaries and larceny-theft also went up, though cases of motor vehicle theft and arson went down and property crime went up only slightly.
Berkeley police usually present similar midyear data in September to City Council but did not compile a report for 2017. According to the 2016 report, crime numbers in Berkeley saw a drop, after a spike in 2015.
Berkeley Police Department Lt. Andrew Rateaver said he couldn’t comment on this data outside of pointing to the department’s official crime analyses. He added, however, that this type of report focuses on some of the big felonies, as opposed to many of the other types of calls BPD responds to.
Both BPD and UCPD deal with far more reports of mental crises, including those related to drug abuse and homelessness, Rateaver said. It’s these social issues that tend to be left out of the numbers, yet still impact the police department’s resources, according to Rateaver.
“They still affect the police department, but it’s not crime, per se,” Rateaver said.