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Highest Arrest Rate in California? ‘Hippie’ Humboldt County

The county with the highest arrest rate in California is not Los Angeles, San Diego or the Bay Area counties, where Black Lives Matter protests have shut down cities. Rather, it is “hippie” Humboldt County, which had the highest arrest rates for felonies, misdemeanors, and status offenses for the 58 counties in California from 2005 through 2014.

With a population of just 134,809 in a state of 38.8 million, Humboldt racked up 2,122 felony arrests, 6,635 misdemeanor arrests, 284 juvenile status arrests, for a total of 9,040 total arrests for the decade, according to California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s  OpenJustice website. That works out to 6.7 percent arrest rate for the decade.

Crime has steadily declined in the United States and the State of California since 2004. But the decline in Humboldt County crime reversed after 2010, and has returned to about the same rate as 2004. As a result, there were 341.9 violent crimes per 100,000 residents and 3,251.2 property crimes per 100,000 residents over the last decade.

Just under half the violent crimes in Humboldt County are generated from the City of Eureka and the Hoopla Valley Tribal community, according to the Lost Coast Outlook.

The police “clearance rate” for solving violent crime is at 47 percent, about equal to the same rate as Los Angeles County. But the clearance rate for property crimes is only about half of the rate in Los Angeles County.

Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills praised the Attorney General’s Office for publishing the data on the Internet, according to the Eureka Times-Standard. But Chief Mills suggested that members of the public research how the data is collected and calculated before drawing conclusions.

He cautioned: “Data can be played with many different ways. You have to put that data in context. If you do that, I have no problem of putting the data out there.”

Attorney General Harris released the OpenJustice website in October, just as she launched her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Barbara Boxer. Harris has trumpeted the program as a way for the California Department of Justice to provide more transparency.

Harris has argued for greater accountability for the criminal justice system as a way to rebuild trust between law enforcement and local communities.

Harris added in a public statement last week on the Attorney General’s website, “This data helps clarify a simple truth: too many boys and young men of color are being arrested and killed by police.”

Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey responded regarding violent crimes, “If we’re making more arrests we must be doing something right.” He blamed the majority of the county’s crimes and arrests on drug issues.

For crime and arrest statistics for all 58 counties in California, visit the OpenJustice online at http://openjustice.doj.ca.gov/

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