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Violent crime on the rise
Prisoner release mostly to blame, says Turlock police
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The crime rate in Turlock fell by a slim margin in the last year, but prison realignment is having a significant impact on the community as violent crimes and response times to critical situations both increased over the year.

AB 109 is the legislation that reduced state prison population by transferring some offenders to county supervision.

“It’s a trickledown effect,” Turlock Police Capt. Steven Williams said. “There is less room at the jail, so the criminals are getting back on the streets sooner and that is contributing significantly to our Part One crimes and response times.”

Overall Part One crime rates fell by 1 percent over 2012, according to the Turlock Police Department’s annual report. But those crimes deemed as violent saw across the board increases, while property crimes recorded some highs and lows.

“It is one of the big issues on our radar and we are taking steps to address it,” Williams said of the violent crimes increase.

Part One crimes include homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies, and auto thefts.

Homicides had a 400 percent increase for the year because there were five homicides in 2012 and only one in 2011.

There were 20 rapes last year for a 25 percent increase from the 16 reported in 2011.

Robberies had the smallest increase with a 1 percent rise. There were 97 robberies in 2012 and 96 in 2011.

Aggravated assaults saw a 28 percent jump in 2012 as the number of reports hit 329, up from 258.

Williams said the police department is developing a plan to address the increase in violent crimes. The department will be rolling out an interactive map online so citizens can see what crimes are happening where.

“It will be a tool for us to help determine where to focus our special units like the Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement team,” Williams said.

The department also is looking at the option of bringing probation officers into the new Public Safety Facility to work closer with them.

“The more we work and share, the more we know who the players are out there,” Williams said.

The department has been able to make improvements to the rate of burglaries in Turlock. In 2011, the city saw a 17 percent increase in burglaries. In 2012, the number of burglaries had dropped by 22 percent. There were 625 burglaries in 2012 and 804 in 2011.

Larcenies also saw a decrease in 2012. Last year there were 1,355 larcenies and 1,427 in 2011 for a 5 percent drop.

Vehicle thefts continue to be a big problem for the city. In 2011, there was a 24 percent drop in auto thefts, but in 2012 there was a 44 percent increase. Last year there were 511 reports of auto theft, compared to 355 in 2011.

“We previously implemented an auto reduction plan that led to a huge reduction in thefts in the community,” Williams said. “We plan to roll it out again and make whatever adjustments are needed.”

The response time to calls also took a jump last year. The average response time to priority one calls increased by 46 seconds for an average time of seven minutes and four seconds.

In 2012 the department had to leave four sworn officer positions vacant, which when combined with unforeseen illnesses and injuries has had an impact on response times.

“It’s an issue we take very seriously and we are taking steps to decrease the response time,” Williams said.

The police department received 65, 410 calls for service in 2012 and made 3,852 arrests.