By Justin Swanson | NB Indy
An overall 3.4 percent decrease in Newport Beach crime last year resulted in the lowest crime rate in the city’s history, at least since 1969 when such statistics began being recorded, according to police.
The declining trend reflects that of Part One crimes, which consist of homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, theft, and residential, garage, and commercial burglaries. Violent crimes were down 10.9 percent, while property crimes saw a three per cent decrease. However, theft crimes were up, particularly bike thefts (18.1 percent, or 38 crimes) and theft of packages (35 percent, or seven crimes).
“It is hard to pinpoint one specific reason for a decrease in crime,” said Kathy Lowe, Newport Beach Police Department public information officer. One contributing factor was the department’s shift to a data driven approach to policing, Lowe explained. For instance, officers were scheduled for patrols of certain areas based on crime data, effectively putting them in the right places at the right times.
Lowe pointed to the reduction of officers holding positions at the department proper, placing them in the field where they could intervene more rapidly. She indicated the three percent increase in arrests as a function of the change.
“We are extremely fortunate to have strong support from our community,” Lowe continued, acknowledging increases in neighborhood watch participation and Nixle subscribers. While Nixle provides subscribers with crime information via e-mail and text messaging systems, alerting community members, watch programs helped spread crime prevention tips like locking doors and windows, known as “hardening the target.”
Detectives and patrol officers have also reportedly arrested several “notable criminals,” known to have committed multiple crimes in Newport and surrounding cities.
“Removing these individuals from the streets can have a significant impact on the overall crime rate,” Lowe explained.
In surrounding cities, crime has fallen commensurate with Newport’s own with one exception: Costa Mesa. Stats for Newport’s neighbor were last reported in December with a 15.51 percent increase in Part One crimes, notably seeing vast percentage increases in arson and stolen vehicles.
Newport Beach’s other neighboring cities, however, have reported less. Laguna Beach saw a 21 percent decrease in violent crime, despite increases in public intoxication and D.U.I. arrests. Irvine was recently named the safest city in the country.
“We meet regularly with representatives from surrounding law enforcement agencies in an effort to identify and analyze crime trends,” Lowe said. This type of cooperation is beneficial to all cities involved, she added.
For their part the NBPD is not finished with their effort to reduce crime.
“We certainly will not rest on our laurels when it comes to keeping the community safe,” Lowe pledged.