Shelly Zimmerman
San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman delivers the 2017 crime report at San Diego Police Headquarters in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of SDPD

Crime in San Diego has fallen to a 49-year low last year, according to an annual report released by Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman Monday.

The city “had the lowest overall crime rate in the last 49 years, since 1968,” Zimmerman said. “And since 1968, our population has more than doubled.”

That was just one of the more dramatic statistics included in the briefing that create a picture of San Diego as being one of the safest big cities in the country and one that has only gotten safer as its population has surpassed 1.4 million.

Overall, there was a 7.3 percent decrease in all crimes between 2016 and 2017. There were 34 reported murders last year, down from 50; 559 rapes, down from 572 and 17,294 thefts, down from 18,042.

There were 1,410 robberies, up slightly from 1,387 in 2016.

For comparison, Philadelphia, which has a population of 1.57 million, saw 317 murders in 2017 and San Jose, which has a population of 1.03 million, had 47 in 2016.

The city’s violent crime rate of 3.7 per thousand in 2017 is comparable to the rates seen in the early 1970s. The overall crime rate of 22.4 is comparable to rates in the late 1950s, according to the report.

Total gang crimes were down last year, with 794 cases compared to 934 in 2016. The department arrested 2,664 gang members last year compared to 2,763 the year before.

There were 41 hate crimes reported last year, down from 48 the year before. Those based on ethnicity were the most common, followed by ones based on sexual orientation and religion.

Response times for the most serious calls was shorter last year, an average of 6.6 minutes compared to 7.1 minutes in 2016.

The report was the last that Zimmerman will deliver as chief of the San Diego Police Department. She is set to retire in March after four years at the helm.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer last week appointed David Nisleit as her successor. He is due to be considered for confirmation by the City Council later this month.

“Our Police Department is not just in goods hands, our Police Department is in excellent hands,” Zimmerman said.  “I am thrilled for each and everyone in our department, in our city, because our future is incredibly bright under the leadership of Chief Nisleit.”

— City News Service