Violent crime rises, barely
by Lenny Roberts
The city of Ojai experienced an overall increase in reported
violent crimes last year when compared with 2000 statistics,
but Sheriff's Capt. Gary Pentis said the percentages can be misleading
when dealing with small numbers.
Pentis, who doubles as Ojai's police chief, said he is actually
pleased that the arrest rate is up.
"There's a real flaw with reporting crimes, and we're not
unlike any other police jurisdiction," he said, explaining
that when a deputy takes an original report of a crime, and the
paperwork is handed over to an investigating detective for further
evaluation, the crime counts statistically although the
"victim" may later recant the allegation.
"The story may be made up for various reasons, and we're
looking at a new computer system to fix that," Pentis said,
citing one reported rape and some misdemeanor crimes within the
city that were reported but never actually happened.
Examining the report that was issued last week by the Sheriff's
Department, Pentis said the increases in arrests for drunken
driving was due to more aggressive cops and a primary concern
of enforcement, and more arrests for narcotics offenses were
explained by better officer training.
"I'd be pretty upset if we didn't have more arrests out
of this station. There are lots of drug-related crimes in this
area, and it's definitely a community-wide problem," he
"F.I.'s (field interview cards) are up 30 percent, which
is real good. It means the deputies are documenting contacts,
and that goes a long way for preventing crimes."
One area that was noticeably deficient from years past was the
amount of traffic citations written. Pentis said the police-union
enforced sanctions for a temporary slowdown as a "statement
to the county" about revenue as deputies continue to work
without a contract was the reason for the decrease. Along with
that decrease, traffic collisions jumped from 152 to 172.
"We saw a 10 percent decrease in the amount of tickets written
and an increase in traffic collisions. We need to turn that around,"
"This year (with the addition of motorcycle officer Tom
Triplett), we're hoping to see a reduction in traffic collisions
by more enforcement in the city, and there's a direct correlation
between the number of citations written and the number of traffic
Another concern is the increase in the amount of reported fraud,
including forgery and identity and credit card thefts, which
jumped 36.4 percent from 11 reported incidents in 2000 to 15
"Theft of identity is a blossoming crime in our community,
and a number of fraud suspects have drug problems," he said.
Actual reported Part I violent crimes increased from 15 to 20,
but Pentis said that the category includes the bogus rape and
two robberies that were allegedly done by transients to transients
in Libbey Park. Part I nonviolent crimes, including burglaries,
thefts and arson, dropped from the reported 184 in 2000 to 152
last year for a 14.7 percent decrease. Pentis noted that the
drop would have been more dramatic had it not been for about
10 burglaries that were allegedly done by one person, who has
since been arrested.
Part II reported crimes, which are mainly misdemeanors, increased
from 611 to 625, bringing the total number of reported crimes
within the city to 802 - nine less than in 2000.
Of the 540 people who were arrested in the city in 2001, 94 were
juveniles. Misdemeanor arrests for both adults and juveniles
outnumbered felony arrests 446 to 94
Saturday was the busiest day for calls for service, which totaled
4,704 for the year, the highest since 1995 when there were 4,808
- the most of the decade. The busiest month for calls were June,
March and July.
The most calls for service, 871, were placed for noncriminal
incidents, and the least, 99, were for domestic complaints. Forty-one
percent of all routine calls were placed for audible alarms.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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