Data shows decrease in most crime in 2022; chief hopes public will be able to separate perception from reality

Police Chief Andy Mills on Wednesday credited the community as a whole for the drop in crime, as well as his officers.
Police Chief Andy Mills speaks during one of several community meetings the Palm Springs Police Department held last year.

Data for 2022 released by the Palm Springs Police Department this week shows a decrease in crime across almost all categories, but continued issues with some thefts.

The police department shared the data on social media Tuesday. It shows the following:

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  • Overall, violent crime was down 8% and property crime was down 5%.

  • Among the largest decreases in crime was in residential burglaries. In 2021 there were 304 and last year there were 219 — a 28% decrease.

  • The largest percentage decrease was in murders, which dropped from 7 to 5 — a 29% decrease.

In an interview Wednesday, Police Chief Andy Mills credited the community as a whole for the drop in crime, as well as his officers.

After a series of community meetings last year, Mills divided the city into three sections, assigning a supervisor for each. Some officers were also assigned to new teams. One of those teams — the “crime suppression team” — focused on removing guns from the streets, making nearly 150 arrests in 2022.

Two crime categories saw a year-over-year increase:

  • In 2021, there were 1,416 larceny crimes — those where a piece of property such as a bicycle or catalytic converter was stolen —  but in 2022 there were 1,430.

  • There were also 43 assaults on police officers last year compared to 25 the year before.

That 72% increase in assaults on members of his force concerns Mills.

“Violence against our public servants is unwarranted and unacceptable, in a democratic society,” he wrote on a social media post. “…Our officers are worth protecting.”

Despite the relatively good news shown in the numbers, Mills said he was realistic about the chances that public perception about crime in the city would change. It’s simply too easy to get caught up in the hysteria of national and local headlines that focus on the scariest, most violent crimes. Data and that hysteria often conflict.

The chief attributes that to a shift in the prevalence of online misinformation.

“Social media like Nextdoor definitely has a magnifying effect,” he said. “Back in the day, if your bike was stolen, only you and your friends would know. Now, if you’re a victim of a crime, you post it on social media and it gets reposted and re-shared and maybe picked up by the news. I need to be transparent with people and show them the data and they can make up their own minds.”

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