Violent crime in the Inland Empire and California as a whole has increased, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner, and now he’s addressing the issue head-on and asking state and federal legislators and the public to help combat the rise in criminal activity.
“We’ve been watching our California dream degrade with increased crime, homelessness and substance abuse,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Shannon Dicus in an op-ed.
The San Bernardino County Homeless Outreach and Proactive Enforcement Team estimates that there are 2,100 homeless individuals who are “adverse from help and suffer from extreme mental health and substance abuse issues” in San Bernardino County alone.
Data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows that California had 6,987 parolees at large as of December 2022, with 552 of them at large in San Bernardino County. Dicus believes that the spike in violent crimes is directly correlated with the high number of at-large parolees and homeless individuals wandering community streets.
“These numbers are concerning because these are parolees and likely the culprits of violent crime,” said Dicus. “When you see nearly 7,000 criminals roaming the streets, I think the public can understand why we see violent crime spike.”
County residents have already begun fearing for their safety. Dicus says that he has received 12,640 concealed carry permit applications since 2019 and that the number of applications increases by an average of 30% each year.
The Sheriff-Coroner also noted that a stronger emphasis needs to be placed on calls related to mental health crises. Since January 2020, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office has received 16,929 calls relating to an individual suffering a mental health crisis.
“Several calls for service that law enforcement receives are related to mental health issues that our lawmakers must address,” said Dicus. “While I remain optimistic that there is an appetite for change at the State Capitol, our Deputy Sheriffs consistently receive calls for service for mentally ill residents in our community.”
Despite the violent crime spike, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office has made a dent in violent offenses through Operation Consequences, which focuses on “conducting crime suppression operations throughout the county to curb violent crime, dismantle targeted criminal street gangs, and arrest criminals illegally possessing, manufacturing and trafficking firearms.”
Operation Consequences has resulted in over 100 pounds of fentanyl being taken off the streets in addition to over 450 arrests and nearly 500 illegal firearm seizures.
Overall, Dicus hopes that lawmakers and community members alike will continue to do their part in helping decrease the violent crime rate in San Bernardino County and across all of California.
“I encourage the general public to become more active with your Sacramento and Washington, DC legislators,” he said. “Learn who your representatives are and call their offices to let them know you are concerned about the safety of your communities.
To read Dicus’ full op-ed, click here.