Police Chief Chris Briggs

Police Chief Chris Briggs said the hard work of his force is one reason crime rates are falling.

Preliminary data provided by the Glendale Police Department to the Glendale Star show many violent crimes were down significantly in 2019, compared to 2018.

In 2019, 67 rapes were reported in Glendale, down 42% from 117 the year prior. Last year, 558 cases of aggravated assault involving a firearm, knife or other deadly weapon were investigated, it too was down 22% from the 723 in 2018.

Burglaries fell from 1,641 in 2018 to 1,420 in 2019. The 2019 burglary number is about half of the 10-year average in Glendale and less than half the 2,847 robberies in 2012. 

Robberies were also down, from 325 in 2018 to 234 in 2019. The 2019 robbery number was less than half the 481 in 2017 and 476 in 2016.

Motor vehicle thefts were also down significantly. In 2019, 801 vehicles were reported stolen in Glendale, down from 1,054 in 2018. This was the first time in more than a decade less than 1,000 vehicles were stolen in the city.

“I’m proud of the accomplishments of the hard-working men and women of the Glendale Police Department but with that being said, there is always work to be done,” said Glendale Police Chief Chris Briggs. 

A notable exception to the crime-falling trend: There were 19 people murdered in Glendale last year, up from nine in 2018. Over the last decade, an average of 17 people were murdered in Glendale.

And, while all nine of the 2018 Glendale murders are listed as “cleared,” either by arrest or the death of a suspect, only six of the 2019 Glendale murders were cleared.

“Homicides are some of the most complex cases we work and typically involve months and sometimes years of follow-up, so we often see clearances for homicides years after the actual crime,” noted Jay O’Neill, a police spokesman.

“These cases also typically involve analysis of a large amount of forensic evidence which takes time.”

As an example, O’Neill said Kyle Carnell was shot to death in May of 2015, “and we didn’t make an arrest in that case until 2018.” (Telisha King goes to trial March 5 for Carnell’s murder.)

O’Neill also noted the 2019 statistics will not be considered “official” until it is reviewed and published in the FBI’s annual report, not expected to be released for months.

He said errors led to slightly inflated numbers in previous years. “They were first noted in 2019 when we noticed inconsistencies in our use of an internal reporting system,” O’Neill said. 

Property crimes were inadvertently counted by the number of victims, he explained.

“We have since stopped using the reporting tool that is internal to the Records Management System and can say our current data is accurate,” O’Neill said.

As for the significant drop in burglary and robbery numbers last year over previous years, O’Neill cited a few factors.

“While I would like to say the Glendale Police Department’s efforts are the sole reason for this decrease, I think we also have to acknowledge the socioeconomic factors at play here,” O’Neill said, adding the strong economy has helped to reduce crime.

While vehicle thefts fell, only 132 of the 801 vehicle thefts reported in 2019 were closed.

The number of robberies and burglaries “cleared” (usually by arrest) also fell. Of the 1,420 burglaries in 2019, only 77 were listed as solved. And only 35 of the 234 robberies reported in 2019 were closed. 

“I don’t think we can say specifically one reason or another it impacts clearance rates for burglaries,” O’Neill said. “Anecdotally, I would say burglaries often have some of the least amounts of physical evidence and eyewitnesses. Burglaries often happen during the day when people are away and there are fewer witnesses. Short of fingerprints and the occasional house with video surveillance, there is often little physical evidence.  

“We are however seeing an increase in the number of residences with video surveillance, which is helping to not only solve, but prevent burglaries.”

Advanced technology is assisting police in other areas.

Briggs was named police chief last year, shortly after a program to use convenience store cameras as part of crime-fighting was launched.

“We will continue to strengthen our partnerships with our community and look for ways to leverage technology to continue to reduce crime and the fear of crime within our community,” Briggs said.  

“We have excellent relationships established within our community and we will work in partnership to improve the lives of those who live, work and visit Glendale.”