Bakersfield holding the top place for Homicide

April Gonzalez, Social Media Editor

According to a state study, Kern County has the highest homicide rate in California since 2019, marking the third year in a row that it has held the top place. 

In a study done by the state Department of Justice, there were 9.2 murders per 100,000 people in Kern County last year. In 2019, there were a total of 84 murders. According to The Bakersfield Californian, Kern County District Attorney, Cynthia Zimmer, described the state’s highest homicide rate as “disappointing.” However, she pointed out that this year’s murder rate was the lowest since 2015, when it was 7.4 per 100,000 people. In 2018, there were 11.1 murders per 100,000 people in Kern County, up from 9.9 in 2016 and 2017.

Sergeant  Robert Pair has been with the Bakersfield Police Department for twenty-years. Bakersfield’s crime rate has increased within the past year. Pair says, “Some crime categories that have increased are shootings, homicides, catalytic converter thefts, auto thefts and assaults”. Although there has been increasing numbers, there has been a decrease in rape and burglaries. There are many reasons that contribute to an increase in crime rates, and authorities can’t point to one thing as the cause because there are so many causes, According to Sergeant  Pair, “ lesser penalties for certain property crimes, “non violent felonies” like felon in possession of a firearm, decriminalized drug laws with no enforcement/motivation for judicially ordered treatment. Covid created housing issues for jails and prisons. 

Socio-economic issues always play a part, economically depressed have higher crime rates. Specifically with the homicide increase, traditionally 40-50% of homicides are considered “gang-related”. Police aren’t all to blame when it comes to crimes, yes they are here to protect and serve but Pair says, “All too often, people do not cooperate with police investigations and do not provide information that they have witnessed. As law enforcement, in order to effectively do our job, we must have open dialogue with the community and access to vital witness information”. The community has its ups and downs but Pair says, “Our community is already great. Crime has always existed and the hard truth is that it will always exist.”

Sophomore Giselle Flores doesn’t feel safe in her own community. Flores says, “Bakersfield needs more security and control. Violence and disruptions are basically normal, with the amount of crime rates. I would not feel comfortable going  anywhere by myself knowing I’m a target to any type of violence”. Enforcing the laws and expectation can help out the community and the people being raised here Flores says, “More control under what they allow. Any law we have for adults seems to not matter to minors as it does to children and teenagers. We need boundaries and  limits on what we expose to our generation”.