SAN DIEGO–Gang-related homicides in the San Diego region appear to have dropped sharply over the last two years, according to an annual report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Criminal Justice Research Division.
In addition, race/ethnicity, age, and gender continue to be predictors of victimization, with the risk of being a victim of a violent crime generally decreasing with age, according to the report, San Diego Violent Crime Victims and Suspects in 2009.
“Due to changes in data collection and difficulties in discerning motive, it is difficult to compare homicide statistics across years,” SANDAG Director of Criminal Justice Research Dr. Cynthia Burke said. “However, it is worth noting that this is the second year in a row with a decrease in the proportion of homicides with a known motive that were attributed to gang activity.”
Of the 75 homicides that occurred in 2009, motivation could be determined in 54 cases. Almost one-third (31%) of the homicides were attributed to an argument, 26 percent to gang activity, 22 percent to domestic violence, six percent each to drugs or money issues, four percent each to other motives or child abuse, and two percent to robbery.
In cases where motive was known, the proportion of gang-related homicides have dropped sharply. In 2007, 40 percent were deemed gang-related, 31 percent were gang-related in 2008, and 26 percent in 2009.
Anecdotal information from law enforcement across the region attributed this reduction in part to intelligent-led gang reduction projects, including: Sheriff-led, multiagency suppression operations targeting gangs; targeted enforcement to reduce guns and gangs as part of the federal initiative Project Safe Neighborhoods; “Operation Stonegarden,” funded by a Homeland Security grant; curfew sweeps; services and support offered to youth and their families; multiagency task forces sharing gang-related intelligence and collaborating on operations; and California Gang Reduction, Intervention, and Prevention programs.
Other interesting data detailed in the report include:
- Females were more likely to be homicide victims as a result of domestic violence (50 percent) and males as a result of an argument (38 percent) or a gang incident (30 percent).
- Blacks and Hispanics were overrepresented as victims of homicide, rape, robbery, and assault in comparison to their representation in the population.
- A firearm was used in 54 percent of homicides.
- Approximately one in four rape victims was under the age of 18.
- Children and young teens were suspects in 26 percent of robberies, 11 percent of rapes, and 11 percent of assaults.
- Overall, females comprised 51 percent of crime victims, but only 24 percent of suspects.
SANDAG is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.