Although the number of crimes being committed in the city is declining, Costa Mesa has the third-highest violent crime rate in Orange County, according to statistics presented to the council this week.
In a special presentation, Police Lt. Jim Watson reported that, on the average, crime has slowed down over the past three years. In fact, in 1991-92, he said, there were 8,755 crimes committed, down from 9,407 the year before.
But officials are not sure what factors are responsible for the decline, Watson said. A variety of factors could play a role, including a department program to target certain high-crime areas.
"Sometimes it is pretty hard to put your finger on it," Watson said. "We have been trying to target specific areas more closely. Instead of just having an officer routinely patrol there, we may send out two or three."
Despite the decline, Costa Mesa still ranks among the top 10 cities--behind Santa Ana, Anaheim and Huntington Beach--with the highest crime rates in the county.
However, Watson said the numbers may be more a reflection of changing reporting methods than in the statistics themselves.
For instance, some cities may report the same crime differently, giving it a less serious designation which would skew the results, he said.
City Council watchdog Ernie Feeney urged members to take the city's violent crime ranking as a wake-up call.
"We feel we need more officers," said Feeney, who asked the council to use whatever funds that are available to put more police officers on the street.
City Manager Allan L. Roeder warned the council not to feel overly comfortable with the statistics. He said crime always needs to be addressed, even though there may be a slight drop in the number of incidents.