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What to do About Crime in Santa Cruz?

There were 1,173 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 1996; 711 in 2012.
There were 1,173 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 1996; 711 in 2012.
The City Council Tuesday will hear a report from a citizen's commission charged with figuring out what to do about crime in Santa Cruz. 

It's part of a study session on the perception that crime has severely worsened in the city of 60,000, although statistics vary. Property crimes are up over the past 10 years, while violent crimes are down. Both were significantly higher in 1995 and 1996 (see charts in photos).

The commission's conclusions were that judges were too lenient, not enough is done to get people into drug programs and not enough is being done to get positive training and experiences for youth.

"Santa Cruz’s public safety problems are complex, but can be solved," the committee wrote in its report. Multiple factors including substance abuse, tolerance without accountability, and lack of inter-agency collaborative strategies among the City, County and Court system have led to a serious public safety problem within the City."

Among the problems: "The Task Force finds that the Santa Cruz County Courts have failed the community as it relates to criminal sentencing. Improved accountability should come in the form of increased transparency, consistent adjudication of the City's municipal code violations." 

Some other conclusions were:

*The City should immediately improve lighting on the San Lorenzo River Levee and Park and the Harvey West area to discourage illegal behavior and reinvigorate those public spaces.  

* The County should relocate the needle exchange to County-owned property located in a non-residential area and implement a syringe identification tagging program (e.g. color coding or serial number).  Exchange to be on a true one for one basis with an actual physical count of syringes being exchanged. additional syringe exchanges programs from operating or opening within the City limits. 

*Expand drug and alcohol programs and cut down large volume alcohol sales and marijuana cultivation.

*Expand youth programs.

* Courts should issue a misdemeanor warrant to individuals following three failures to appear in a six-month period. This automatic warrant issuance will eliminate the need for the City Attorney to prosecute repeat municipal code infraction offenders who fail to appear.

* Compel the Presiding Judge of the Santa Cruz County Superior Court to appear before the Santa Cruz City Council twice a year to share what the Court is doing to address high repeat offender rates in the City of Santa Cruz and receive input from the City Council and City Attorney.  

The council will hear from the commission at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a study session, which means it can take no action, but can hear from the public.
John Cohen December 03, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Unfortunately the task force primarily focused on so called "nuisance crimes" and advocated instituting the discredited "broken window" policing strategy (which is inherently racist and militarizes public space). They turned poor and homeless people into a bugaboo for scared Santa Cruz residents — blaming them for Santa Cruz's many valid, serious crime problems. We face: aggressive teenage gangsters starting to hook up with Mexican drug cartels; drug dealers targeting our kids as a lucrative market ushering them into the drug culture; and rising sexual crimes against women and children. These important, valid issues were ignored by the task force report for the agenda of right wing politicians like Mayor Lynn Robinson, vocal fringe groups who have targeted marginal groups in our community, and those bankrolling Robinson and her cohorts as well as Take Back Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Neighbors and their incestuous network of groups instilling an irrational fear into average decent people of poor and homeless people. The task force obviously had an anti-poverty agenda: they did not lead but rather set the course for more anti-homeless bigotry with failed policies that are guaranteed to cause more harm than good, policies which just distract away from the important, valid crime problems I cited.
Robert Norse December 03, 2013 at 04:18 PM
By "crime" the Task Farce actually means "anxiety about homeless people". Theere was no specification nor investigation of the real crimes (property crimes and crimes against people) rather than get-rid-of-the-homeless "crimes" like sleeping ban, sitting ban, sparechanging ban, and the bogus drug war laws. Nor were any statistics provided of the correlation between homeless people and real crimes. Nor between people released from jail and recidivism in Santa Cruz around real crimes. Nor any figures-in-time to show if Santa Crux is actually experiencing an increase in crime compared with ten or twenty years ago. Naturally, because the Task Farce was established to further the Take Over Santa Cruz agenda---of making it okay to treat homeless people even worse than they are presently treated in the hopes that this will eliminate or "lessen" "the Homeless Question". Nothing new here. Same tired old bigotry dressed up in scary clothing.
Dave Danger December 05, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Robert Norse: "They have eyes, but they can not see". That quote seems appropriate here. Having lived here for nearly 6 decades, I feel qualified to answer your question about whether or not crime has increased over the last decade or two: YES! It has increased DRAMATICALLY!! An aside....I remember when you first blew into town, seeing you wandering around the mall in your bathrobe, I thought to myself "He won't be around long....there's just no support here for a middle-aged, extremely hairy, unkempt male in a short bath robe". But you're still here!
Robert Norse December 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Dave Danger: Other than bike theft--which I agree has increased--do you have any stats indicating any increase from 5, 10, or 20 years ago. When I spoke to Chief Vogel this summer, he didn't feel there was any substantive overall increase. Please cite figures if I'm wrong.
Robert Norse December 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Naturally I'm not talking about the "crimes" concocted by City Council, right-wing merchants and residents, and the police that involve sitting, sleeping, being in a park after dark. If you mean those--which are survival-related behaviors, I'd agree with you. Otherwise--not.
Dave Danger December 12, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Robert Norse: I do not compile statistics, nor do I trust them. You know as well as I the truth of the phrase "There's lies, damned lies, and statistics". But, as you have asked for them perhaps you don't share the same opinion as I do regarding their validity. That having been said, I offer an example to you: The government statistics on unemployment. Everyone realizes that the true unemployment rate is anywhere from two to four times higher than the "official government statistics" tell us. That is because (among other things) they don't count those people who are no longer receiving unemployment checks, and those who have given up even looking for a job. See? Data can be skewed however one wishes, to show whatever results one desires. Anyhow, moving on.... Growing up here, we (family and friends) used to go to the roller skating rink on Seabright all the time. Never a problem. NOW you can't park your car on any street in that vicinity after dark without fear of having it broken into. Our car has been robbed twice, friends cars same thing, and we hear about others all the time. The "crime map" which Santa Cruz seems to have recently quit contributing to, would show car break-ins occurring there two to five times a week! Then there are the stabbings. My goodness! Never saw that growing up here! It got so horrible that somebody actually created a stab-o-meter website to highlight the issue (I know, that would be statistic-gathering...its usefulness to me was as an easy source to find current incidents). There are the home robberies, which (believe it or not) in many cases the police will not even come to your home to investigate or make a report....presumably due to their being less important crimes than all the beatings/stabbings/shootings/muggings that they are overwhelmed with. That's a relatively new development. They used to actually have the time to come to your home when you had been robbed! And of course as you pointed out, the bicycle theft problem which has grown to where you pretty much can't leave your bike unattended if you want to retain ownership of it. All of these things are well known, and well discussed through various social media that keeps my social circles in touch with each other. You may not be privy to that information, as you do not have access to any of the media/groups/clubs that I belong to. And no, I'm not a Take back Santa Cruz member nor do I have anything to do with facebook. So, there you have it. You may choose to try and label it all as "anecdotal evidence", but I would dispute that.
Pat Kittle December 13, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Robert Norse: While doing habitat restoration in the Pogonip I've seen how disgusting your bums treat the place. It's every bit as bad as the city says it is. Would you consider getting out of your bathrobe costume and helping out? No, you wouldn't. It's more fun to idle your life away in a bathrobe whining about those who actually make an effort. For you & your bums it's always just gimme gimme gimme. You do not act in good faith.

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