HAYWARD — The three largest cities in Alameda County all saw significant reductions in violent crime in 2009, according to FBI statistics released this week — with Oakland, Fremont and Hayward each recording drops of 14 to 15 percent.
Violent crime dropped 15 percent in Fremont, 14.8 percent in Hayward and 14.1 percent in Oakland. That's considerably better than the national average, which saw a 5.5 percent decline in crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and assault.
Hayward saw a 13.7 percent drop in robberies, 9.8 percent fewer aggravated assaults and 49.1 percent fewer forcible rapes.
There were seven homicides each in 2008 and 2009, although the first five months of this year saw a spike.
Property crimes were down 2.9 percent, with burglary falling 9.4 percent and theft down 6.6 percent. Auto theft was the exception to the rule, with an increase of 8.1 percent.
In Fremont, robberies decreased by 6.5 percent. The largest discrepancies were among aggravated assaults, which were down by 22 percent, and vehicle thefts, which decreased by 21 percent.
The city saw small upticks in three areas: Property crimes rose by 2 percent, burglary was up 8 percent and larceny rose by 4 percent.
Oakland saw drops in vehicle theft, down 19.1 percent; aggravated assault, 16.8 percent; robbery, 12.8 percent; and murder, 9.6 percent. Burglaries were up by 6.9 percent.
In terms of violent crimes per capita,
The preliminary FBI statistics include data only for cities with populations of 100,000 or higher.
Hayward police Lt. Chris Orrey said the department has taken a number of measures to reduce crime, including targeting drugs and gangs — two factors directly tied to violent crime.
"We have our (gang investigations unit) and undercover narcotics investigations unit, and with the recent spate of violence, we have redeployed extra officers in schools and on the streets," she said.
Orrey said the department also has increased neighborhood partnership programs — including creating north and south Hayward community police outposts. She said, however, that it's difficult to point at any particular action as to directly influencing crime trends.
"When people debate the reasons for drops, there are so many factors and all kinds of arguments for what is working," she said. "I like to hope things are working, and I like to think we have a great partnership with the community and great neighborhood groups, but to say for sure, you just can't."
Incidents of crime last year in this city of 202,714 people:
Incidents of crime last year in this city of 142,227 people:
Source: FBI Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report