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East County News Service

November 24, 2021 (San Diego) -- Felony arrest rates decreased 14%, and misdemeanor arrest rates decreased 38% in the San Diego region in 2020, compared to 2019, according to a new report released by SANDAG, Arrests 2019 and 2020: Law Enforcement Response to Crime in the San Diego Region.  Overall, arrests dropped 31% countywide.

The rates dropped sharply in every local community listed. In East County, from 2019-2020, felony arrests dropped 53% in La Mesa, 44% in Lemon Grove, 42% in Santee, 14$ in El Cajon, and 25% in unincorporated areas.  But it wasn’t merely a pandemic lockdown dip. Felony arrest rates also dropped substantially from 2016 to 2020 in every jurisdiction at rates ranging from 32% to 78% in communities, or a total of 42% across the region.

Black individuals were overrepresented in all arrest categories in 2020, and Hispanic individuals were overrepresented in some, compared to their proportion of the population. White individuals and those who represented “other” races/ethnicities were generally underrepresented.

“These data clearly show that 2020 was an unprecedented year for arrests made in the San Diego region,” said SANDAG Director of Research and Program Management Dr. Cynthia Burke. “A number of factors could have contributed to these significant declines, including a statewide stay home order that presented fewer opportunities for crimes to occur and reduced contact between potential victims and mandated reporters, such as teachers.” 

Other notable report findings include:

  • There was an average of 163 adult arrests per day regionwide in 2020, down from 237 in 2019
  • Around 1 in every 3 arrests in 2020 were for felony offenses, compared to 1 in 4 in 2016
  • For adults, arrests for a violent offense decreased the least (-11%) from 2019 to 2020, while “other” offenses decreased the most (-41%)
  • For juveniles, property crime arrests decreased the least (-13%), while arrests for weapon offenses decreased the most (-45%)
  • The jurisdictions with the lowest arrest rates in 2020 were Carlsbad (7.7) and Solana Beach (8.4), and those with the highest were Escondido (31.1) and El Cajon (33.7)

Although arrest numbers were predominately down, there were double-digit one-year increases for four arrest types for adults, including felony, arson, homicide, felony other drug, and felony narcotics. Juvenile arrestees saw an increase in felony burglary and motor vehicle theft.

For a full breakdown of the data collected, visit the SANDAG Criminal Justice Bulletin: Arrests 2019 and 2020: Law Enforcement Response to Crime in the San Diego Region.

For a summary of this report, view the SANDAG CJ Flash: Arrests in the San Diego Region.


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