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Fresno wants to add cops to the force, but arrests are down as crime rises

Crime & Punishment

Fresno wants to add cops to the force, but arrests are down as crime rises

Even post-Prop. 47, statistics show a dramatic drop in overall arrests coinciding at a time when voters continue to make public safety their main concern.

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Fresno police are arresting fewer people these days, even as crime of certain types is rising.

For example, felony arrests between 2013 and 2016 fell by nearly two-thirds. This comes as no surprise after the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014, which redefined the severity of selected offenses.

But Proposition 47 didn’t turn what had been felonies into legal behavior. It simply turned felonies into misdemeanors, behavior still deemed by lawmakers and citizens as harmful to society. Yet, Fresno police in 2016 made nearly 26% fewer misdemeanor arrests than in 2015. This comes on top of the nearly 37% drop in felony arrests over the same period.

To look at things from another angle, police made an estimated 45,000 felony and misdemeanor arrests in 2014 compared to about 27,000 total arrests in 2016.

Maybe Fresno is rapidly turning into a public safety Utopia. If so, you couldn’t tell by all the heated “we need more cops to be safe” rhetoric in last fall’s mayoral race.

Why the dramatic drop in overall arrests at a time when voters continue to make public safety their main concern? Police Chief Jerry Dyer declined to be interviewed on this issue.

That’s not like the Chief. He’s fearless when it comes to explaining crime statistics and what they mean to Police Department operations.

All the answers probably won’t come until next month’s budget hearings. That’s when Mayor Brand will begin fulfilling a campaign promise by asking for more money to dramatically expand the size of the police force.

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George Hostetter

George Hostetter is a contributor to CVObserver and advisor to The Collegian, the student newspaper of Fresno State.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Blake Gunderson

    May 9, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Mr. Hostetter,

    Before anyone makes a sweeping generalization like, “[o]verall crime today is down by an encouraging degree compared to 2010”, they should consider the sobering study published by the Pew Research Center. On March 1, 2017, they reported as follows:

    “Only about half of the violent crimes and a third of the property crimes that occur in the U.S. each year are reported to police. And most of the crimes that are reported don’t result in the arrest, charging and prosecution of a suspect, according to government statistics.”

    Food for thought.

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