VICTOR VALLEY, Calif. (VVNG.com) Violent crime has increased in the Victor Valley more than 20 percent from last year’s totals, according to Sheriff John McMahon.
The department tracked the stats for the first six months of 2017 and said there had been more violent crimes than in that same time frame in 2016.
Crimes are categorized in parts- with part 1 including crimes which involve force or threat of force and can include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, arson and Larceny-theft, which McMahon says overall Part 1 crime is down “just slightly.”
“But the big ones that are really important, the violent crime, is up, and overall in the whole High Desert it’s up more than 20% in the first six months of the year,” McMahon said. “That’s murders, robberies (not just business but house robberies), as well as assault with a deadly weapon. That’s all up.”
Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 11 murders locally that Victor Valley News has reported on.
Take for example the woman who was beaten to death outside Hook Park in Victorville, the man killed outside his grandmother’s house in Apple Valley, a double shooting that left one man dead in Adelanto, a man’s body dumped in a field in Hesperia after being shot, and the most recent murder just 6 days ago with a man being gunned down while riding his bike in a Victorville neighborhood.
Why has crime increased?
McMahon stated there are different reasons why crime has increased, but we can only speculate as to why it’s going up; it could be all the criminal justice reform we’ve seen; the way some crimes are now treated as misdemeanors instead of felonies, or the effects of Proposition 47 or AB109.
Additionally, McMahon said, “It seems like there’s a lot more media coverage, whether it be on social media, or in the newspaper, or Victor Valley News Group, whatever it might be about crime going on in the High Desert.”
“There are a couple of explanations, number one is that (crime is) up to some degree, but we do a much better job in advertising what’s going on,” he stated.
Admittedly, McMahon said that the community is much more informed than ever. However, for those who believed that crime only appeared to have increased because of coverage, McMahon says “there is still an increase.”
So what can be done about the increase in crime?
Certainly, the easy solution is to hire more deputy sheriffs and put them to work and make the community safer (which Victorville will be adding two more deputies in the next fiscal year), that works if you can afford it, McMahon said.
But it’s clear McMahon was looking at the deeper issues affecting our community and the real changes that are needed.
“I think it’s about time that we stop reforming our criminal justice system and settle in and try to figure how to manage what we have today,” McMahon said to the attendees of the Valley Morning Insight meeting held by the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce, who applauded in support of his statement.
With the recent passing of Proposition 57, which allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons, repeat criminals are more likely to serve less time for crimes they’ve committed.
There’s a list of crimes that are categorized as non-violent, non-serious, such as rape by intoxication and domestic violence, making those who commit these crimes eligible for reduced sentencing.
“The folks that get out of our jails also come back to the streets in our county. Now whether or not you want them to come back out doesn’t matter, because they’re coming,” McMahon said.
McMahon said although a percentage of those in jail will never turn their lives around, the department’s responsibility is to work on those who are willing to. That means providing resources such as job connections and education in hopes of having them contribute back to society.
“So we’re not ready to throw in the towel because of criminal justice reform, but any help that the community can give us to turn this around we would certainly welcome” he stated. “We’ve all seen the pendulum swing both to the left and to the right, and I think we’re at a point now where it’s swung so far to one side that it’s got to come back.”
McMahon said the department would continue to do their best within the rules they have to follow to make the community as safe as possible. However, he believes the community will be the voices that will demand the changes that are needed the most.
“It’s going to take the public getting mad enough because they’ve been victims, they’re tired of seeing gangsters on the street, they’re tired of crime rates going up, and eventually, the public will demand that it comes back towards the center.”