Crime has increased by almost 20% so far this year, pointing to the sharpest annual increase since 1951, San Diego Police Chief Bill Kolender said Wednesday.
Kolender told the Public Service and Safety Committee of the City Council that "it doesn't look like it's going to get any better."
According to police figures, each of the seven major crime categories registered increases during the first nine months of this year.
In a quarterly crime briefing to the committee, Kolender said that, during the same period, San Diego police officers arrested 13,961 suspects who were cited and released without having to spend a day in jail because of overcrowding at the County Jail downtown.
Kolender's report to the committee blamed the increase on several factors, including an increase in drug trafficking and on some illegal aliens, who according to Kolender, "come here just to commit crimes and know how to work the criminal justice system to their benefit."
The crime increases, with the number of incidents for the first nine months of this year and 1985:
- Homicide up 20.3%; 83 from 69.
- Robbery up 34.5%; 2,917 from 2,168.
- Auto thefts up 33.2%; 9,680 from 7,265.
- Rape up 17.8%; 304 from 258.
In addition to the 19.9% increase in overall crime, crimes per 1,000 population increased by 18.6%, Kolender said. Rape, robbery, aggravated assault and auto theft are increasing faster in San Diego than in other U.S. cities of comparable size, Kolender said.
Recently, the City Council voted to hire an additional 147 officers, which Kolender said will be used in walking patrols and for narcotics enforcement. The new officers are expected to be on the streets by summer. Walking patrols have contributed to crime decreases of 5% to 18% in some downtown areas, according to police statistics.
The number of identified gang members increased from 1,300 to 1,600 and gang-related arrests were also up from 610 to 730, according to police statistics. However, Kolender said that these increases are due partly to the assignment of additional officers to the department's gang task force.