Q. I’ve heard and read a lot in the news about crime increases throughout California and other public safety issues. What’s happening in Ventura?
A. 2015 was a challenging year for the Police profession nationwide. Changes in the criminal justice system and increased scrutiny across the country of police conduct and the use of force will continue to impact and challenge our profession in 2016. Despite these challenges and concerns, I am proud that our crime fighting team here in Ventura remains extremely capable and competent, with a mission-driven approach of serving and protecting our community.
Like all city departments, we are often asked to do more with less. Our hope is that in 2016 we will see an increase in the resources available to provide the public with the quality service they deserve.
While it is difficult to quantify all the service and results our department provides to our community, one area we can quantify is our crime data from the past year. Arrests were up nearly 17 percent. Reported Violent Crime was up more than 35 percent and the total number of violent crimes (375) increased to a five year high. The largest increases were in Robbery and Aggravated Assaults, up nearly 20 and 35 percent respectively. The number of reported property crimes provides more favorable results. While other jurisdictions experienced an overall increase in property crimes, the city of Ventura remained at about the same level overall as in 2014. One area of success that contributed to this result was with Residential Burglaries, down nearly 30 percent with about 133 less crimes compared to the 440 crimes that occurred in 2014.
We believe our strategy to direct resources to crime “hot spots” where recent residential and auto burglaries have occurred, rather than random patrol activities, contributed significantly to this reduction. Unfortunately with limited resources, a focus to one specific crime problem can lead to increased crime in other areas. In this instance, our Non-Residential (Commercial Business) Burglaries rose to a total of 291 crimes – 68 more than in 2014. In addition, our Violent Gang Crime increased from 13 crimes in 2014 to 32 Violent Gang Crimes in 2015.
Our Ventura police officers do more than fight crime. We responded to more than 93,000 calls for service from the public – almost 1,800 calls a week. The majority of these calls do not end up being criminal acts and result in no arrests. They involve issues with youth at risk, people with mental illness, and situations that impact quality of life such as vagrancy, homelessness and chronic drug abuse. Our approach is often to develop community partnerships and work within this network to provide long term sustainable solutions to these societal challenges.
In 2016, I am confident we are well positioned to achieve success in what will be an eventful and challenging year. This success will not come by chance; it will come from the hard work and dedication of the nearly 200 crime fighters of the Ventura Police Department – sworn, professional staff and volunteers and the support of the community.
We encourage community members to stay informed and get the latest public safety information, tips and alerts at: Facebook.com/venturapd, venturapd.org, VCAlert.org, and Nextdoor.com. Our Ventura Police Department general information phone is 805-339—4400 and our non-emergency phone is 805-650-8010.