California violent crime at lowest since 1968

California’s crime rate dropped across the board in every major measured category, with violent crimes – including murders and rapes – at their lowest comparable levels in more than 40 years, the state Justice Department says.

The department’s report, “Crime in California,” tracked offenses, arrests, judicial dispositions of felonies, probation, complaints against peace officers, domestic violence calls and other data over time.  The full study can be seen here.

Meanwhile, some 67.6 percent of those arrested for felonies wound up getting convicted — the lowest level in a decade.

The dense report, a collection of tables and fine print detailing criminal behavior in California society, reflects the spikes and declines of crime over several decades.

A startling finding is that the most violent crimes, homicide and forcible rape,  have dropped to their lowest levels per 100,000 of population since 1966. Murders during 2010 were at 4.7 per 100,000 people, and rapes were at 21.4.

Aggravated assaults accounted for 246.5 per 100,000, compared with 155 in 1966. But the latest level is down dramatically from the high of 632.5 in 1992.

The violent crime rate dipped 6.9 percent, down to 422.3 per 100,000 from 453.6 in 2009. The decline reflected its lowest level since 1968, when it was 411.1.

The property crime rate also declined by 2.7 percent from 2009. According to the Justice Department, the largest decline in property crimes was in motor vehicle theft, which dipped 7.6 percent. The auto theft rate has dropped 62 percent since 1989, the reported noted.

Burglaries, meanwhile, are at about 589 per 100,000, about half the 1,225.9 in 1966.

There also was a drop in 2010 of the number of full-time criminal justice personnel, about 3.4 percent fewer than the year before, a figure that likely reflects state and local budget cuts.

Bucking the trend, the rate of dangerous drug arrests increased for the first time in five years, about 12.2 percent. Arrests declined, however, for marijuana, narcotics and other drug offenses.

Meanwhile, there were a 12.9 percent decrease in the rate of adults place on probation, and an 8.6 percent drop in the number being removed from probation.

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