Chief Cantando to Council: Antioch Violent Crime Up 45 Percent

By James Ott

Antioch’s crime rates are up while arrest rates are down, said Police Chief Allan Cantando during his mid-year report to the City Council at their July 24th meeting.

According to the report violent crime in Antioch is up 45 percent and property crimes have climbed by nearly 60 percent.

Cantando’s presentation compared crime rates from January through June of 2011 with crime rates from those same months in 2012 and it appears that every major crime statistic reported has increased, and in some cases substantially.

There were three homicides from January to June last year and four reported from those same months this year. Rape cases have gone up 100 percent from eight cases to 16, with robbery and aggravated assault cases rising by 34 and 50 percent, respectively.

It is a similar case for non-violent crimes with burglary up 45 percent and auto-theft up 30 percent. Other theft cases have totaled 1023 – up from just 504 from this same time a year ago.

Even arson cases are up 21 percent from 14 this time last year to 17 in 2012.

Despite those increases in criminal activity, Antioch Police have arrested fewer criminals so far this year. From January to June 2011, 2444 arrests were made. From January to June of this year, police made just 1970 arrests – or 19 percent fewer arrests of adults and juveniles.

Chief Cantando said that he believes part of the increase in crimes is the result of increased reporting of criminal activity by the public. Since June 23, 2011 Antioch citizens have been able to report crimes online and so, most likely, there are just more reports of crime being filed.

“Once the public was made aware of [online reporting], it made it much easier for them to report crime and we believe that this shows our increase,” said Cantando. “Not to say that crime wasn’t occurring prior to that but making it easier I think [is why] we’re seeing a rise in our numbers.”

Cantando also said that crime is cyclical and showed a three year comparison from 2009 to 2011 to illustrate how it fluctuates. Although total property crime was up on average 46 percent during those years, violent crimes were down over 10 percent during the same period.

Chief Cantando said that the increases in crime are a result of decreases in police staffing levels, and because of that he doesn’t think many should be surprised by the jump in crime.

“We’ve talked about our staffing levels and what we’re doing to increase those,” he said. “And there is a correlation between our staffing and the crime that’s occurring in our community.”

Another statistic to note was the decreased response time of Antioch Police Officers. The average time it took officers to respond after a call for service was received and an officer was dispatched was five minutes and 37 seconds so far this year. That’s an increase of 30 seconds over last year’s average response time and nearly a minute longer than it took in 2010.

Cantando once again pointed to decreased staffing as the main culprit here. He also said that because of employee turnover in their dispatch, some newer employees are still working out training issues.

Either way, Cantando said he was focused on improving those response times because “it affects everyone.” In fact, Cantando said that when he called the police for a neighbor he had to wait over an hour to get a response.

The Antioch Police’s clearance levels – or the percent of crimes that are solved – were well above the national average in 2011 and their 2012 levels look to be at a similar pace only six months into the year.

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