Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Are There Really so Few Felonies Committed in Santa Monica?

With Proposition 47 reducing many crimes to misdemeanors and a "justice-reform" county district attorney refusing to prosecute even violent misdemeanors, the appearance of low crime belies the reality

File photo

Police on horseback in Reed Park. Even if they can't make an arrest, the presence of police officers tends to inhibit crime

June 26, 2024 - With the Santa Monica Police Department Daily Arrest Logs now online again, we decided to take a look at the numbers involving crime in this city. Using the 13 days of log reports available, from June 12 to June 24, we discovered that only a little over 4% of police calls end in arrests, that nearly half of arrests end in "cite outs," and that there are an average 7.15 arrests made per day.

A "cite out" is when the police detain an individual on suspicion of having committed a crime, issue a citation, and release them to go about their business until their court date and arraignment. During June, cite outs were issued for matters including possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence, and theft under $950. According to SMPD spokesperson Lieutenant Erika Aklufi, "There is no set limit to the number of citations a person can receive for violations that are cite and release only." However, the police can ask a magistrate to review the circumstances in the case of multiple citations in order to have the offender ordered held until their arraignment. Aklufi did not mention how often this is requested or is granted but did add that offenses involving guns, sexual battery, crimes against children/elders and contact with minors with intent to commit a sexual offense are examples of offenses subject to Magistrate Review. In addition, arrestees currently on Felony Probation, Parole, of Post Release Community Supervision. Those who have committed certain offenses (we don't know which), with 3 or more failures to appear in other recent criminal cases will also be referred to a magistrate for review.

During the 13 days of June, there were a total of 93 arrests. 52 of these were for misdemeanors. These misdemeanors included the 5 domestic battery arrests made during this time period and the 4 burglaries. Domestic battery can be a misdemeanor, according to Aklufi, depending on on factors such as the relationship of the parties and the seriousness of injuries sustained by the victim. Citing out for such offenses is a result of the current Los Angeles County zero bail schedule.

24 of the arrests were for felonies. These included assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a loaded stolen firearm, corporal injury to a spouse, parole violations, and felonious types of burglary. Also, several felony arrests were made for vandalism. That occurs when the damage done exceeds $950.

11 of the arrests were the result of bench warrants - when the police discover the person they are talking to has failed to appear for a court date. 6 of them were the result of arrest warrants, which are issued prior to any court appearance. 1 arrest was because of a warrant issued in San Diego.

The Daily Arrest Log gives the birth date of the suspect but not their city of origin, let alone if they are homeless. This seems like a significant missing data point, but Aklufi said that such data is often self-reported, not necessarily accurate, and is not reported out to prosecutors nor is it reported to any state or federal information clearinghouse such as the Cal DOJ or FBI.

The number of arrests does not necessarily reflect the number of crimes. Aklufi claims that SMPD do make arrests for Indecent Exposure (17 in 2023), Trespassing (105 in 2023), and Public Intoxication (330 in 2023). I think we all know far more of such crimes were committed than these numbers reflect, however. Special signs need to be posted on property in order for Trespassing to be considered an arresting offense. As for shoplifting, if the police do not personally witness the crime, a civilian witness needs to sign a Private Persons Arrest From and agree to participate in the prosecution of the individual. And even then, the police can only refer the incident to the City Attorney for prosecution. Meanwhile, the suspect is cited and released.

This is obviously an arduous process with little hope of success and zero help in the short term. Many times shop owners do not even call the police to report theft since there will be no immediate benefit, and multiple reports of theft could affect the store owner's insurance rates.

Crime map, if you can figure out how to work it

As for those suffering the severe and dangerous mental illness we all witness daily as we move through Santa Monica, good luck getting the police - or anyone - to pull some deranged individual in for a psychiatric hold. Although Aklufi claims that the police can detain someone suspected of being a danger to themselves or others, one local resident was told otherwise by a police officer. On asking the officer to evaluate a deranged woman in a public park, the resident was told by the officer that only if the deranged person asked for help could the police take him in. Let's see: what is the likelihood that a crazed individual like the one who recently attempted to drown and rape several women on the beach would ask for help? Exactly nil.

The Daily Call Reports indicate that SMPD officers work extremely hard and have a great deal to do. In 4 days there were 860 calls. The Daily Arrest Logs show that their work is often in vain. For those 860 calls, there were only 38 arrests made. State and local policies prevent the police from doing the job for which they have trained and which they badly want to do: get criminals off the street and make the city safe.


Reader Comments(1)

John writes:

Crime statistics are just like the homeless statistics that will come out this week. When police stop arresting and documenting crime, the numbers of crime incidents decrease. Police do this because the pathetic district attorney (gascon-please vote him out) told cities and police that he would not charge criminals and just release criminals if arrested. So police see no point. They need victory arrests for their promotions. When police do not interact, document, and report these non-jailable criminals, crime magically goes down. Because they aren’t counting. Similarly, homeless counters have been explicitly directed not to count homeless this year. So magically if homeless are not counted, the amount will go down. These false numbers will be released this week. Meanwhile David White the Santa Monica city manager is making $400k+ other benefits and destroying Santa Monica. We taxpayers are paying someone to ruin this place. Why?