Everyone wants to live in safe communities, and data show California continues to experience crime rates well below historical peaks. The property crime rate — the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents — was 2,178 per 100,000 in 2021, far below the peak of 6,881 in 1980. The violent crime rate was 466 per 100,000 in 2021, less than half the 1992 peak of 1,104.
Crime rates recently increased across the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll. In California, between 2020 and 2021 the property crime rate rose by 3% and the violent crime rate went up by over 6%.
Any rise in crime is concerning, even as crime rates remain at historic lows. Policymakers should avoid resurrecting the failed, incarceration-focused policies of the past. Instead, state leaders must advance strategies to reduce youth violence, strengthen families and communities, and target the longstanding structural barriers to opportunity — such as poverty and housing instability — that disproportionately impact Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color.