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Lathrop scores drop in violent crime down
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Violent crime is down. Property crime is up.

It’s a common trend in California communities where active policing has eliminated the high-crime issues that were at one time a problem. Maybe it’s the community-oriented approach – where officers go out into the community and try to gauge the community in which they cover rather than just responding when they’re called.

But California isn’t a good place to be if you don’t want your car broken into – or stolen.

And in Lathrop, property crimes like auto theft and burglary increased over the last year – like in most communities across the Central Valley – while violent crime as a whole dipped.

According to numbers released by Lathrop Police Services, the city had 709 property crimes in 2013 – up from 631 the year before. Auto theft also rose – from 75 to 91. Burglary jumped from 274 to 293.

There were four less arsons in 2013, however, and one less homicide (there was only one for the calendar year). Rape increased from 4 in 2012 to 5 in 2013 and robbery jumped from 20 occurrences in 2012 to 26 in 2013, but assault dropped significantly – falling from 24 to only 17 for the calendar year.

Categorically, there were two less violent crimes – 48 total – than there were the year before.

The numbers, however, don’t paint the entire picture of the two-year span in which they cover. Over that period, Lathrop has recovered significantly from the housing market collapse that hit the city hard in 2008. The recession forced one of its largest developments to fold and slicing the city budget to nearly nothing.

And Lathrop – which contracts for police services with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department – might actually have the upper hand when it comes to dealing with one of the most pressing issues for local law enforcement today.

The enactment of AB 109 – California’s realignment bill – is forcing counties in California to clear room in their jails for state prisoners that meet certain criteria and have less than three years to serve on their sentence. That means those that would serve less than a year for other crimes are typically placed on supervised release, and those that would be held until seeing a judge can be cited and released without ever stepping foot in a cell.

That means those committing the crimes can be back out on the same day.

But the city has some new – restored actually – tools at its disposal.

Voters approved Measure C in November of 2012 that instituted a one-cent sales tax increase for a boost to local public safety. The department was able to use their portion of the money, once it became available, to restore four positions that were eliminated. They added an additional school resource officer, two community impact team (gang and narcotics) officers and an administrative sergeant.

The department currently employs 26 sworn officers – a chief, a lieutenant, three sergeants and 21 deputies. Of those 21 deputies, seven are on special assignment, including two community impact team members, two school resource officers, a community resource officer, a motor officer and a detective.