At his first meeting as the new Mayor of Lake Forest in 2013, Scott Voigts claimed that we are “one of the safest cities in California.”
At her last meeting as Mayor in 2012, Katheryn McCullough said we were “one of the safest cities in the U.S.”
One of the first resolutions passed by the newly sworn city council in December began with these words: “Whereas Lake Forest is one of the safest cities in the U.S.”
What do all these three statements have in common? They are lies!
A few months ago I wrote an article entitled “How Safe is Lake Forest?” which said that:
“Despite what you’ve been told by our highly paid City Manager and by the City Council members, Lake Forest is not among the safest cities in America. In fact, it’s not even among the safest cities in Southern California.”
I followed that article with statistics from 2008 and 2009 on the crime rates for 9 cities managed by the OC Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), and the findings were –
• On serious Part 1 crimes (e.g., homicide, forcible rape, assault, robbery, auto theft, larceny, and burglary) Lake Forest had the 7th highest crime rate in 2009 and 6th highest in 2008.
• On lesser Part 2 crimes (e.g., forgery & counterfeiting, stolen property crimes, vandalism, prostitution, sex offenses, offenses against child, liquor violations, DUI) Lake Forest had the 7th highest crime rate in 2009 and 8th highest in 2008.
• In terms of clearance rates (solving crimes) in 2009, Lake Forest ranked 5th in clearing Part 1 crimes and 4th in clearing Part 2 crimes.
Coming in with the 7th highest crime rates among 9 cities managed by the same police force is not exactly a sterling record. And it hardly qualifies us for “one of the safest cities in the U.S.” much less in California when we are not even one of the safest cities in Southern California.
The key dates of 2008 and 2009 were chosen because these were the last dates that the OCSD published online. But I wondered how we were doing lately, so I put in a request for public records information and the OCSD was nice enough to comply and send me the data for 2011 and 2012.
The two big questions:
• Are we having more or less crime now and are we doing a better or worse job catching the criminals?
• How do we stand on a comparative basis? Are we still among the highest in crime and only average in clearance?
Part 1 (Serious) Crimes
Data for 2011 and 2012 were remarkably similar for all 10 cities so I combined the data. Here is the crime rate per 100,000 people for those two years for Part 1 crimes.
Rancho Santa Margarita, 778
Laguna Woods, 813
Aliso Viejo, 957
Laguna Niguel, 1,207
Mission Viejo, 1,371
LAKE FOREST, 1,440
San Clemente, 1,451
San Juan Capistrano, 1,716
Laguna Hills, 1,931
Dana Point, 2,016
Among the 10 cities, Lake Forest had the 6th highest crime rate for Part 1 crimes. In 2009 we had 1,370 crimes per 100,000 people compared to 1,440 in 2012, so we show a 5 percent increase in the number of crimes, but on a comparative basis, we were 7th in 2009 and in 2011-2 we were 6th. A slight improvement on a comparative basis, but nothing to brag about, and far more worrisome is the 5 percent increase in serious crimes.
Part 2 Crimes
Here’s the data for Part 2 crimes per 100,000 people –
Laguna Woods, 659
Laguna Hills, 1,118
Aliso Viejo, 1,635
Rancho Santa Margarita, 1,696
Mission Viejo, 1,964
San Clemente, 2,466
LAKE FOREST, 2,650
Laguna Niguel, 2,820
San Juan Capistrano, 3,347
Dana Point, 3,594
Among the 10 cities, Lake Forest had the 7th highest crime rate for Part 2 crimes. In 2009 we had 2,786 crimes per 100,000 people compared to 2,650 in 2012, so we show a 5 percent decrease in the number of crimes. On a comparative basis, we were 7th in 2009 and in 2011-2 we were 7th again.
Part 1 and Part 2 Combined
If we combine the Part 1 and Part 2 crimes, Lake Forest comes in with the 7th highest crime rate among the 10 cities, at 4,090 crimes per 100,000 for 2011-12. Laguna Woods has the lowest rate at 1,472 crimes per 100,000 and Dana Point comes in last at 5,610.
The average for the 10 cities served by OCSD is 3,563 crimes per 100,000. Interestingly enough this is nearly 10 percent higher than the average national crime rate for 2011 which was 3,295. Extrapolating this, the crime rate for Lake Forest is much higher not only than most cities in Southern California, but for most cities in the U.S.
• 3,295 – National crime rate
• 3,563 – Average crime rate for 10 Southern California cities
• 4,090 – Crime rate in Lake Forest
With respect to crime rate, we continue to have among the highest crime rates per 100,000 people for 10 cities managed by the OCSD, whether we look at Part 1 or Part 2 or both. Moreover our comparatively poor performance remains the same when we compare 2008-9 with 2011-2. Our crime rate in Lake Forest is 14 percent higher than the average for the 10 cities in Southern California and we are the 7th highest out of 10.
When 2008-9 is compared with 2011-2 we show a 5% increase in Part 1 (serious) crimes and a 5 percent decrease in Part 2 crimes.
When looked at from a national perspective, our combined crime rate of 4,090 crimes per 100,000 is 24 percent higher than the average crime rate for the U.S.
Clearly, our Mayors and our City Council are not telling us the truth about crime in Lake Forest.
In our next blog we’ll look at the clearance rate and then discuss some of the implications. Meanwhile it would be nice if our city council members and the city staff refrained from telling us and the world that we are among the safest cities in the U.S.