But when it comes to the per capita rate of killings, Contra Costa comes in No. 3, just behind San Francisco and Alameda, according to 2007 homicide statistics just released by the state Attorney General’s Office. This rate is based on the number of killings per 100,000. The per capita rate of a crime, versus the number of incidents, is often used by law enforcement to determine how safe or unsafe a particular geographical area is—and with regard to homicide, how deadly it is. The rate is also a good indicator of the extent to which murder is a factor in the lives of people living within a certain geographical area.
In 2007, Contra Costa had 98 homicides, a rate of 9.4 killings per 100,000 people (Contra Costa County has about 1 million inhabitants). In the same year, Alameda County, with 1.45 million people, had 152 killings, for a rate of 9.9 killings per 100,000 people. San Francisco had the highest rate, 12.2, with 100 killings per 100,000. San Francisco’s population stands at about 757,000 people.
Los Angeles County, as always, led the state with the highest number of murders: 853, which puts its rate at 8.4 per 100,000 people. Los Angeles County has about 9.8 million people.
One very worrisome trend has to do with both the number and the rate at which people in Contra Costa County are being killed: Both those numbers have been steadily increasing since 1998, from 54 killings in 1998 year to 98 in 2007, or a rate increase from 5.9 in 1998 to 9.4 in 2007.
This steady increase marks a contrast to prevailing trends statewide. Overall in California, the Justice Department reports, the homicide rate, from 1998 to 2007, has decreased from 6.5 to 6.0 percent from 1998 to 2007. A total of 2,258 people were killed in 2007. Oh, and firearms were used in 72.4 percent of those homicides.
Back to Contra Costa County: Those in central Contra Costa County should be relieved to know that the majority of the murder and mayhem occurs outside their affluent suburbs. Of Contra Costa’s 98 killings in 2007, 47 occurred in Richmond, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, citing state Justice Department figures. That was Richmond’s highest number of killings in 12 years, and gave the city the highest per-capita homicide rate of all California cities with a population of 100,000 or more.
Antioch suffered 10 of those killings in 2007, the Chronicle says. Last year, law enforcement officials were reporting that fast-growing Antioch had seen a 30.9 percent increase in violent crime in 2007—the largest jump among 65 big cities in the state—and a 9.8 percent increase in property crime.