Highlights federal certification of state’s new data collection system aimed at improving overall quality and depth of crime statistics
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the release of the annual Homicide in California, Crime in California, Use of Force Incident Reporting, and Juvenile Justice in California statistical reports. The reports provide policymakers, researchers, law enforcement, and members of the public with vital statewide information on criminal justice statistics in California to support informed policy choices based on data and analysis and help protect the safety and well-being of all Californians. While the reports are typically published in July, the recent overhaul of the state’s electronic reporting systems, as required by a federal directive to strengthen data collection capabilities nationwide, impacted data collection efforts and the timing of this year’s release of the reports. Once fully implemented for the hundreds of reporting agencies across the state, California’s new data collection system, which was certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year, will significantly improve the quality and depth of the criminal justice statistical information available to all Californians.
“Good data is a cornerstone of good public policy. I urge our partners across California to read these reports released today by my office,” said Attorney General Bonta. “While crime rates remain significantly below their historical highs, property and violent crimes continue to have devastating consequences for communities across the state. Gun violence in particular remains a consistent and growing threat. In fact, in 2021, nearly three-fourths of all homicides in California involved a firearm. As we confront these ongoing challenges, we must have accountability and appropriate consequences for those who break the law. Accurate statistics and the data in the annual crime reports are a critical part of calibrating our response, ensuring policymakers and law enforcement are able to make informed decisions. At the California Department of Justice, we’re using every tool we have to prevent violence and combat crime in all its forms. Whether it’s successfully securing federal certification of our data systems or taking guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, my office remains committed to doing our part to support safety and security for all Californians.”
Each year, the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) publishes annual reports on various criminal justice statistics in California. While law enforcement agencies across the state are in the process of transitioning to the new data collection system known as the California Incident-Based Reporting System (CIBRS), the format of the information made available in this year’s reports remains consistent with previous years. The ongoing transition to incident-based reporting will ultimately enable law enforcement agencies to collect more in-depth information about specific incidents than previously available in the legacy system that had been in use for decades. For instance, under the legacy system, statistical data was typically collected using the “Hierarchy Rule,” i.e., only the most serious offense within a criminal incident is counted for statistical purposes. As a result, if a robbery and a homicide occurred in the same incident, the legacy system only counts the homicide for statistical reporting purposes.
Through CIBRS, policymakers, law enforcement, and members of the public will eventually have more detailed information, context, and specificity about crime in the state. Law enforcement agencies across California are currently in the process of transitioning to CIBRS. To date, more than 300 reporting agencies have completed the transition and are in the process of becoming certified by CADOJ. However, there are currently several hundred agencies remaining and CADOJ continues to work with agencies across the state during this ongoing transition. In the interim, in order to help ensure the annual criminal justice reports remain complete and accurate to the fullest extent possible, CADOJ continues to accept data in both the legacy and CIBRS formats. The information made available in this year’s reports is a combination of data collected under both reporting methods. The Attorney General encourages researchers, academics, and all members of the public to analyze the data and use it to help inform public discourse on the state’s criminal justice system.
Key findings from each of the four reports released today and a brief description of their contents are available below:
Homicide in California 2021 provides information about the crime of homicide, including demographic data of victims, persons arrested for homicide, persons sentenced to death, peace officers feloniously killed in the line of duty, and justifiable homicides. Some of the key findings include:
- The total number of reported homicides in the state increased 7.2% year-to-year from 2,202 in 2020 to 2,361 in 2021, remaining significantly below California’s historical high of 4,095 homicides in 1993;
- In 2021, 75% of homicides, where the weapon was identified, involved a firearm. Firearms continue to be the most common weapon used in homicides;
- Among California’s counties with populations of 100,000 or more, Kern (13.7), Merced (9.5), and Tulare (8.8) were the counties that experienced the highest homicide rates and Placer (1), San Luis Obispo (0.7), and Marin (0.4) experienced the lowest homicide rates. Napa and Shasta counties reported they had zero homicides;
- Among homicides where the victim’s relationship to the suspect was identified, females (35.6%) were more likely than males (6.4%) to be killed by their spouse, parent, or child; and
- There was a 2.9% decrease in homicide arrests from 1,597 in 2020 to 1,550 in 2021, remaining above the 10-year average of 1,478.2 homicide arrests per year.
Crime in California 2021 presents statewide statistics for reported crimes, arrests, dispositions of adult felony arrests, adult probation, criminal justice personnel, civilians’ complaints against peace officers, domestic violence-related calls for assistance, anti-reproductive-rights crimes, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. Some of the key findings include:
- The violent crime rate — i.e., the number of violent crimes per 100,000 people — increased 6.7% from 437 in 2020 to 466.2 in 2021, remaining significantly below California’s historical high of 1,103.9 in 1992;
- The property crime rate increased 3% from 2,114.4 in 2020 to 2,178.4 in 2021, remaining near last year’s historical low and significantly below California’s historical high of 6,880.6 in 1980;
- The total arrest rate decreased 7.3% from 2,812.3 in 2020 to 2,606.3 in 2021, continuing an ongoing year-to-year downward trend that began in 2004 when the total arrest rate was 5,385.5;
- In 2021, the total number of adults on active probation reached its lowest level since 1980 at 151,414; and
- The total number of full-time criminal justice personnel — including law enforcement, prosecutors, investigators, public defenders, and probation officers — decreased 2.7% from 153,883 in 2020 to 149,688 in 2021, falling slightly below the 10-year average of 151,909.8.
Use of Force Incident Reporting 2021 presents a summary overview of use of force and discharge-of-firearm incidents involving a peace officer, as defined in California Government Code section 12525.2. Some of the key findings include:
- In 2021, there were 628 incidents that involved the use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death of a civilian or officer, or the discharge of a firearm. Of those incidents:
- 47.8% occurred during a call for service;
- 19.7% occurred while either a crime was in progress or while officers were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; and
- 15.4% resulted from a vehicle, bike, or pedestrian stop;
- In 2021, 660 civilians were involved in incidents that involved the discharge of a firearm or use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Of those civilians:
- 50.6% were Hispanic;
- 25.5% were white; and
- 16.7% were black; and
- In 2021, 1,462 officers were involved in incidents that involved the discharge of a firearm or use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Of those officers:
- 83.8% were not injured;
- 15.9% were injured; and
- 0.3% died.
Juvenile Justice in California 2021 provides insight into the juvenile justice process by reporting the number of arrests, referrals to probation departments, petitions filed, and dispositions for juveniles tried in juvenile and adult courts. Some of the key findings include:
- Of the 31,370 referrals of juveniles to probation, 92.5% were referred by law enforcement;
- Of the 19,355 juvenile arrests:
- 47.2% were for a felony offense;
- 46.5% were for a misdemeanor offense; and
- 6.3% were for a status offense;
- Of those same juveniles:
- 77.2% were referred to probation;
- 16% were counseled and released; and
- 6.8% were turned over to another agency;
- Of the 17,413 juvenile cases that were formally handled by a juvenile court, 55.3% resulted in juveniles being made wards of the court; and
- Of the 52 juvenile cases tried in adult court, 67.3% resulted in a conviction.
The Homicide in California report is available here. The Crime in California report is available here. The Use of Force Incident Reporting report is available here. The Juvenile Justice in California report is available here. The underlying data associated with the annual reports is available on OpenJustice here.