Chicago may be getting all the headlines about the murder rate with more than 500 already this year, but the per capita rate pales to that of San Bernardino, California.
So far this year, there have been 47 homicides (plus three people killed by police) in the Southern California community, which was rocked in December by the terror attack at the Inland Regional Center that left 14 dead. Fewer than 40 percent of the homicides have been solved.
The Los Angeles Times reports if the pace continues, San Bernardino will end the year with a homicide rate of 31 per 100,000 residents. That compares to 18 per 100,000 in Chicago last year and seven per 100,000 in Los Angeles.
“Our city right now is bad,” Aguadia Brown, 27, told the Times. “It’s like everyone is on edge, and nobody really knows how we’re going to fix this.”
The Times said half of those killed have been black even though African-Americans make up only 15 percent of the population.
Police Chief Jarrod Burguan blames the increased violence in part on changes in state laws that reduced some felonies to misdemeanors, meaning criminals got out of prison earlier. Others blame budget cuts and police force attrition.
“We’re not getting to calls fast enough,” Burguan said. “We don’t have the capacity to investigate everything that’s reported in the city.”
The complaint is similar to those in Chicago where controversy over police shootings has exacerbated the situation. Four shooting deaths were added to the carnage Saturday and early Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reported. The city is on pace to exceed 750 homicides in 2016, approaching the totals in the 1990s but still significantly lower than 1974’s 940.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to hire hundreds more officers but aldermen are upping the ante, saying as many as 1,000 more officers are needed to augment the 12,200 currently on the rolls, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The department currently has 468 vacancies.
The San Bernardino terror attack was perpetrated by the husband-and-wife team of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. It occurred during a holiday and training event. The pair fired 85 rounds at those gathered, injuring 24 in addition to the 14 dead.
The shooters initially eluded police but were tracked down a short time later and killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.