Data shows just how much crime has spiked year-over-year in Palm Springs
Palm Springs police and officers from other agencies detain a suspect during a recent operation downtown.

Data shows just how much crime has spiked year-over-year in Palm Springs

The data focuses on violent crime and thefts. In 2021, it shows between a 25% and 50% spike in some reported crimes in the city.

Kendall Balchan image

Kendall Balchan

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June 26, 2022

Members of the Palm Springs Police Department who spoke earlier this year about an increase in crime in 2021 have the data to support the claim. But don’t expect to see it in the usual spot.

Driving the news: The department is one of nearly 7,000 law enforcement agencies that did not send 2021 crime data to the FBI. PSPD did send data to the California Department of Justice, however. It was shared with The Post last week.

Zoom in: The data focuses on violent crime and thefts. In 2021, it shows between a 25% and 50% spike in some reported crimes in the city.

  • The largest increase by volume was reported in larceny-theft, such as stealing a bicycle or a catalytic convertor, as well as shoplifting. In 2020 there were 1,050 of these thefts reported in the city. In 2021 there were 1,418.

  • Motor vehicle thefts increased roughly 50% in 2021 — from 270 reported to 447.

Look back: In February, Palm Springs police held a series of outdoor town hall events. Roughly 400 residents participated, identifying what they want police to focus on in their neighborhoods.

  • PSPD leadership examined data from the events, divided the city into three separate focus areas, and dived in to place emphasis on what neighbors prioritized.

  • “This needs to be the safest city in this valley,” Police Chief Andy Mills said at the time. “It’s going to take time. Big ships turn slowly.”
Crime data from the Palm Springs Police Department for 2020 and 2021 show a spike in most reported crimes.

Bigger picture: The FBI retired its nearly century-old national crime data collection program last year, causing issues for many law enforcement agencies as they scrambled to adjust to a new system. About 40% of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country were unable to share their data with the FBI.

  • Criminologists say the data gap for 2021 will make it harder to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims politicians make about crime, and we’ll likely have to live with greater uncertainty for at least a couple of years.

But wait: The California Department of Justice is working on its own crime data collection system. It was certified by the FBI earlier this year. A spokesperson said Friday that the Palm Springs Police Department routinely submits its data to the state, which will pass it along to the FBI.

FWIW: Social media commenters crawling various unofficial websites often claim Palm Springs’ crime rate is the highest in the Coachella Valley. But police point out the math is skewed by not using the correct population figure as part of the equation. The city often has double the official population, thanks to weekend visitors and part-time winter residents.

Dive deeper into the 2021 Palm Springs crime stats.

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