Crime rate drops locally

The overall crime rate in Glendale and Burbank dropped in 2011, a trend police credited to targeted enforcement efforts and strong community involvement.

Serious crimes decreased 7% in Glendale and 6% in Burbank, according to the latest statistics. Violent crimes include homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery, while the property crimes include burglary, thefts, auto thefts and arson.

“The key is to be able to intervene rapidly,” Glendale Police Chief Ron DePompa said of spotting crime trends before they become more serious.

Tight city budgets and the loss of sworn positions have forced local police departments to reevaluate their crime-fighting strategies to maintain low crime rates and response times.

Police stepped up their relationship with residents and encouraged the community to report crimes, while at the same time officers increased their use of crime analysis systems and other crime-fighting technology.

The Glendale Police Department’s quick-response approach proved to be successful this holiday season, when DePompa said officers saw a spate of street robberies.

Fearing the trend would increase if they didn’t get a handle on it soon, they focused on specific neighborhoods, using crime analysis and additional enforcement to clamp down.

To combat a spree of auto burglaries in Burbank, police increased their number of sting operations and issued crime alerts to residents and local businesses, Burbank Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.

While most crimes were down in Burbank, rape and arson rates increased last year. Arson incidents jumped from seven in 2010 to 12 last year, and rape increased from 13 incidents in 2010 to 17 last year.

Police worked closely last year with local organizations to offer aid to rape and domestic violence victims and urged them to report any offenses, Ryburn said.

The downward trend came despite fears that the early release of inmates from California prisons would mean more crime.

The availability of Web-based reporting databases has also allowed residents to monitor crimes in their neighborhoods.

“Whatever we are doing is working because crime is down,” said Jolene Taylor, president of Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn. in Northwest Glendale.

But local police officials say it’s too early to tell the true impact of the early-release program.

DePompa noted that police have begun to arrest some early prisoners for various offenses.

To stem the tide of a parolee population in Glendale and Burbank, police said they will continue to use crime analysis and gather information to monitor them.

Social media will also be critical this year, Ryburn said, as police seek to distribute information to the public faster.

“We hope to continue the downward trend, and we can do that with citizens’ help,” he said.

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