Signal Hill Police Department says violent crime dropped but property crime increased in 2013

Sean Belk
Staff Writer

Violent crime in Signal Hill dropped by 25 percent last year over the previous year, but property crime increased by about 3.3 percent, according to crime statistics released this week by the Signal Hill Police Department (SHPD).
Lt. Ron Sagmit said in a press release that violent crime in Signal Hill peaked in 2008 with a high of 59 reported incidents and has come down since then. Sagmit told the Signal Tribune there were no homicides in Signal Hill last year, but there was one in 2012.
He said the increase in property crime accounts for an uptick of 18 incidents. There have particularly been more larcenies and auto thefts, which have spiked in the last two years, Sagmit said.
Sagmit noted in the press release that the police department doesn’t indicate percentage changes in statistics since “the numbers are so low to begin with.” He said that, “it doesn’t make sense to report a 10- to 15-percent change in a particular line item when the actual numbers might differentiate by single digits,” which Sagmit said “doesn’t provide an accurate picture of what is happening locally.”
Sagmit cited a December 2013 report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) that states increasing property crime is a “statewide trend” likely attributable to the court-ordered and State-authorized prison-realignment plan. He said the PPIC report indicates that all three forms of property crime– car theft, larceny and burglary– are on the rise.
The report used monthly data published by the California Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center to document how crime trends aligned with the implementation of realignment in 2011. The PPIC report found that the new statewide incarceration policy “increased property crime for each realigned offender who is no longer detained by 1 to 1.5 per year,” according to Sagmit.
Statistics, however, “only tell part of the story,” noted Signal Hill Police Chief Michael Langston. “How people feel about living and working here in Signal Hill is the best indicator of public safety,” he said.
In a resident-satisfaction survey, which interviewed 259 registered voters in Signal Hill during November through December last year, only 5 percent of the respondents indicated crime as a concern in Signal Hill. The survey, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3), was commissioned by the City Council in anticipation of updating the City’s Strategic Plan.
The survey also indicates that 49 percent, the highest percentage, of respondents, however, weren’t concerned about anything, didn’t know or were too specific. The survey also found that 8 percent of respondents believe public safety response/police department issues, which was the top concern, to be a problem that needs to be addressed.
In addition, results show that most residents in the survey (84 percent) have a positive view of the police department and 72 percent of residents consider it highly important to them, personally, that the department has the funding it needs. In addition, 77 percent of residents want to maintain all current city service levels.
“We work hard to provide a very proactive and professional level of public-safety service in Signal Hill,” Langston said. “We have a fast response time to crimes in progress and document every crime that we become aware of, large and small, so that we fully understand what is happening throughout the city and respond accordingly.”
Langston added that the police department continually looks for new ways to impact crime. Most recently, SHPD is looking to partner with local businesses that will allow police to remotely view and monitor their security cameras, he said. The police department is also looking into utilizing GPS tracking devices for commonly stolen items of personal property.

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