by Photo courtesy of San Diego County jail

A new report from the San Diego Association of Governments found a drop in arrest rates throughout the region, reaching a seven-year low. 

The arrest rate in the San Diego region dropped by 8% for juveniles and 5% for adults in 2021. The report found that arrest rates have declined yearly since 2015 when the rate was 42.2 per 1,000 residents among adults and 18.3 per 1,000 residents among juveniles. 

The most recent report found an average of 155 adults and six juveniles per day in 2021, down from 272 and 12, respectively, in 2017. Despite this decrease, the data showed an increase in violent arrests by 3% among adults and 4% among juveniles. Arrests involving weapons increased by 17% among adults and 98% among juveniles, according to the report.  

Cynthia Burke, SANDAG’s Senior Director of Data Science said the increase in weapon offenses is likely due to an uptick of untraceable firearms, or ghost guns, in our communities. 

“This data is an important measure for the community to understand law enforcement’s response to crime,” Burke said in a statement. “Over the years compared in this report, we have seen a continued decline in the felonies committed overall, as well as fewer arrests in juveniles.”

The violent offense arrest category includes four felony-level (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and one misdemeanor-level (manslaughter/assault and battery offenses). There were 12,105 adult and 589 juvenile arrests for violent offenses in 2021, according to the report. 

Since the passage of Prop 47 in 2014, which reduced the number of property- and drug-related offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, the felony arrest rate has remained constant at around nine felony arrests per 1,000 people in the population. However, this rate dropped to 7.7 in 2020 and then increased by 14% to 8.8 in 2021.

According to the report, the misdemeanor arrest rate started at a high of 30.1 in 2015 and has declined each year since, reaching a seven-year low of 11.7 in 2021, a 61% decrease since 2015.

Property offenses, which include felony-level burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and misdemeanor-level petty theft/burglary, decreased by 8% among adult offenders from 2020 to 2021. For juveniles, the number of arrests for property crimes dropped considerably from 634 in 2017 to 214 in 2021. The most recent one-year decrease was 23%, a larger decrease compared to adults. 

The study also found racial disparities among Black and Latino arrestees in 2021. Black individuals represented 5% of the adult population in the San Diego region in 2021 and 17% of all arrests. They were over-represented in all arrest categories, ranging from 14% for alcohol/drugs to 27% for weapons. Hispanic individuals represented 32% of the population and 35% of all arrests in 2021. According to the report, white individuals made up 49 percent of the population and 41 percent of all arrests.

The data from this report describes the types of arrests made in the San Diego region in 2021 by local law enforcement. The data was provided by the Automated Regional Justice Information System. 

For a full breakdown of the data collected, read the SANDAG Criminal Justice Bulletin: Arrests 2021: Law Enforcement Response to Crime in the San Diego Region.

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