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Crime rate rises in Turlock
Police department reports increases in violent crimes
annual crime report pic
In June 2014, Rodney Bowman killed his parents, adult brother and then himself. This one incident caused the city's homicide rate to increase by 300 percent from 2013 to 2014. - photo by Journal file photo

Turlock’s crime rate climbed by 16 percent in 2014, as the city recorded higher rates of violent crimes and larcenies, according to the Turlock Police Department’s annual report.

Turlock saw increases in all Part 1 crimes in 2014, with the exclusion of burglaries and motor vehicle thefts, which both saw declines. Part 1 crimes are considered the most significant and tracked through the Uniform Crime Reporting System.

Turlock Police Chief Robert Jackson said part of the increase in the crime rate is a direct impact from AB 109 and Proposition 47.

“We are seeing the ripple effects from it in our community,” Jackson said.

AB 109, also known as the Public Safety Realignment bill, was signed into law in 2011. It calls for county jail time, rather than a prison sentence for some low-level offenses. Proposition 47, which was passed by California voters in 2014, reduces the classification of some nonserious and nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Most drug offenses, petty thefts, forgeries and grand thefts are no longer considered felonies and are charged as misdemeanors. The exception is if the defendant has prior convictions for murder, rape, certain sex offenses or certain gun crimes. The reclassification of felonies to misdemeanors also includes being caught with a stolen firearm, if the gun has a value below $950.

“The gun thefts are particularly concerning, because I have yet to hear of someone stealing a gun to add it to their collection,” Jackson said. “Guns are stolen to commit crimes and you don’t get more violent than a gun crime.”

The homicide rate grew by 300 percent for the year, because in 2013 the city saw only one homicide, while in 2014, the department recorded four homicide deaths.

There were 20 rapes reported in Turlock in 2014, 11 more than in 2013, resulting in an increase of 82 percent.

The police department recorded a 73 percent increase in the rate of robberies in 2014. There were 109 robberies reported in 2014, compared to 63 in 2013.

Aggravated assaults saw an increase of 37 percent between 2014 and 2013, with a total of 242 cases reported to the police department.

In 2014 the police department recorded 1,618 larcenies, a 25 percent increase from the 1,291 recorded in 2013.

“Larceny is the largest Part 1 crime directly related to the drug epidemic in our community,” Jackson said. “Proposition 47 had some real unattended consequences on some very successful programs, like drug court. We have the carrot, but there’s no real hammer to get people to go through rehab.”

Burglaries saw a decline in 2014, dropping 4 percent from the year prior.

“The biggest success we have is the partnership between the community and the department,” Jackson said. “I think we are seeing a decline in burglaries because people are listening to us and taking precautions and getting to know their neighbors.”

The rate of motor vehicle thefts also saw a decline in 2014, dropping 7 percent from 2013.

“We are part of the Modesto metropolitan area that has a reputation for auto thefts, so I’m happy to see that the efforts are working and the rate is going down,” Jackson said.

In 2014, the police department made 3,192 adult arrests and 247 juvenile arrests. The number of adult arrests is down by 6 percent for the year over. The number of juvenile arrests declined by 7 percent. The department responded to 59,736 calls for service, with the most calls being for some form of a disturbance and for suspicious activity.