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Manhattan Beach Touts Decreased Crime Rates

Nov 18, 2023 10:17PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

MBPD Chief Rachel Johnson displays crime stats at a community police forum on Thursday night.

At a community police forum on Thursday night, the Manhattan Beach Police Department announced a 40.9% overall reduction in serious crimes between January and October 2023, compared with the same time in 2022. Over five years, those crimes were down 8.9%.

MBPD Chief Rachel Johnson said that this reduction in so-called "Part 1" or more serious crimes was due to the efforts of MBPD officers as well as vigilance by the community.

"Last year I had come before you with some not-so-good news; this year I have better news," said Johnson at the forum. "I'm just really grateful for everyone's effort to drive down crime in Manhattan Beach."

Part 1 crimes are divided into crimes against persons and crimes against property.

In Manhattan Beach, crimes against persons, such as homicide, rape, robbery, and assault were down 36.4% year-over-year, and down 11.7% over a five-year period. 63% of assaults were between people who knew each other as opposed to strangers, Johnson said, noting that it is difficult to apply crime prevention practices for violent crime because it is so often personal.

Crimes against property, which include burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, and arson were down 41.5% year-over-year and down 8.5 percent over five years.

"Property crime is where we really struggle...It can be really difficult in communities like ours, but we've had some reductions - and a lot of our reductions are really kudos to all of you," said Johnson. 

For example, only 26% of burglaries this year were through an unlocked door or window or gate. "Our targets have been harder. I attribute that to everyone remaining vigilant," said Johnson. Further reductions came from neighbors being watchful and calling the police when something seemed suspicious, she said.

There were also reductions this year in thefts from vehicles, Johnson said. Some of that can be attributed to significant arrests of people who were responsible for hundreds of thefts. Also there were important changes in residents' behavior: Last year, about half of thefts occurred when keys were left in the vehicle; this year that number is down to 17%.

Of the 688 arrests made this year, 274 were felony arrests. Public intoxication was the top primary arrest charge, with 73 arrests.

Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols

Johnson also addressed the hot topic of L.A. County's Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, colloquially known as the "zero bail" policy, which went into effect on October 1. The Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols (PARP) determine release status based on an arrestees’ risk to public or victim safety and their likelihood of returning to court - while reducing reliance on money bail as a condition of release for many of those arrested for non-violent, non-serious felonies and misdemeanors. Serious and violent crimes are not affected by the new policy and still require bail; and those who commit capital offenses such as murder are not given the opportunity for release.

The reasoning for the new policy, as explained by the court, is that person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the determining factor in deciding whether the person, who is presumed innocent, stays in jail before trial or is released.

Johnson called the PART "a work in progress."  Twenty-one days of data isn't enough to make any sort of evaluation about how it's going, she said. Furthermore, Johnson emphasized that the essential role of the police department had not changed.  

Notably, the city of Manhattan Beach has joined other cities in a lawsuit against the PARP policy.


MB "Goons" and more

The event covered various topics, including juvenile crime, traffic issues, and the work of the community service officers who contribute to the successes seen in coyote management.

Regarding juvenile crime, officers mentioned a group of youth who go by the name of "The Goons" and hang out at Metlox Plaza or are seen on ebikes. Police said they have addressed concerns by issuing citations, increasing police presence at Metlox Plaza, meeting with parents of individuals that have been named as causing problems, and networking with resource officers in other neighboring agencies to share information.

Following Thursday's event, Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery expressed gratitude for the  commitment of the community and the efforts of the MBPD officers in a statement: “With the partnership that our department has with the community, we have witnessed significant reductions in crime. It is important to acknowledge the outstanding work of our police officers who tirelessly contribute to making Manhattan Beach a safer place. While it is encouraging to see a reduction in the number of crimes in our city, we must remain vigilant at all times and practice common sense safety measures.”

To learn more about MBPD efforts, residents can connect with Neighborhood Watch, sign up for the weekly crime statistics, and follow MBPD on its social media channels. Visit the MBPD website to learn about ways to protect your home and to sign up for emergency alerts.

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