Crimes in South Pasadena decreased 14.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to a recent report from the South Pasadena Police Department. Police identified the majority of the crimes, over 90 percent, as property crimes.
The police department counted a total of 464 Part One crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, arson and auto theft. Of these crimes, police identified 423 as property crimes and the remaining 41 were crimes against people.
According to South Pasadena Police Chief Joseph Payne, the arrest of repeat offenders can significantly reduce certain types of crimes, especially property crimes such as auto thefts and residential burglaries.
"The officers have been working particularly hard in targeting specific problems," Payne said. "They are constantly contacting suspicious persons and conducting more thorough investigations," he added.
South Pasadena's crime clearance rate, the rate at which a crime is solved, doubled last year, making the city's overall clearance rate 21 percent in 2010. "This is due to better investigations done by patrol officers and detectives," Payne said. "When they follow up as far as they can, we have higher arrest rates," he added, and noted the importance of officers to collect evidence at the scene of the crime.
Aftermath of the Arroyo Sexual Assault
After the by a 19-year-old male in the Arroyo Seco in January, some residents worried about the safety of the area, particularly for lone women joggers.
According to Corporal Ronnie of the South Pasadena Police Department, police officers periodically check the Arroyo. He estimated that officers patrol the area once every other week. While homeless people have resided in the area and sometimes set up encampments, Corporal Ronnie said they are not causing criminal behavior.
Police will send the homeless to other areas, including the YMCA in Pasadena or shelters in Los Angeles, but often times they return to South Pasadena since they find it a safer community for them, Corporal Ronnie said.
Chief Payne said while police enforce trespassing laws, they do not see homeless people committing crimes, and in fact, more crimes are committed against homeless people. "They are victims of crime, rather than perpetrators," he said.
Police officials said the January sexual assault was the first time in recent memory a stranger had attacked someone on a trail in the Arroyo. The suspect in that assault was not homeless.
Both Corporal Ronnie and Chief Payne encouraged taking precautions when walking or jogging in the Arroyo. "Carry a cell phone and pepper spray. These are easy to carry," Payne said.
"Tell someone where you're going and try to stay in a visible location," Corporal Ronnie said. "Know your surroundings," he added, and noted that suspects are less likely to attack if a potential victim appears to know the area and looks up instead of keeping their head down to the ground.
According to the report, traffic accidents increased in 2010, and the city saw a 41 percent increase in hit and run accidents. Police linked this rise to "a increase in unlicensed drivers...and delinquent auto registration."
Payne also said that increased traffic along major thoroughfares leads to accidents. "Gridlock is a big problem," he said, particularly along main streets in town such as (which is currently undergoing a road construction project), Fremont, Garfield, Marengo and Huntington.
He said the South Pasadena Police Department has scheduled a saturation patrol the morning of March 2nd, when motor officers will spend half a day in high-traffic areas looking for traffic offenders.
Targeting Property Crime
"Our officers are going to be very aggressive in patrolling and paying special attention to residential neighborhoods where property crimes are happening," Payne said. Most property crimes occur in apartment dwellings, close to freeways and city borders, he said. In South Pasadena, police have reported more of these crimes in the northeast of the city.
Overall, though, "South Pasadena is among the safest communities in the San Gabriel Valley," Payne said. "South Pas has a reputation for safety."