Skip to main content

San Diego’s Murder Rate Was Up In 2020, But Other Violent Crimes Down

Police block Kansas Street in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego after ...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Police block Kansas Street in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego after a man was fatally shot, Feb. 1, 2021.

Violent crime in San Diego increased during 2020, but not by nearly as much as it did in some other large cities, data released Tuesday by the San Diego Police Department show.

Overall, the city saw a 1.7% increase in violent crime between 2019 and 2020, with murders going from 50 in 2019 to 55 in 2020. Meanwhile, aggravated assaults were up by 8% and robberies and rapes were slightly down, according to the data presented to the San Diego City Council.

Listen to this story by Claire Trageser.

The city’s overall crime rate dropped by 8%, driven largely by reductions in thefts and burglaries.

Violent Crime Statistics for San Diego

Southeast San Diego had more murders than any other area of the city, according to the presentation. Ten of the murders in Southeast San Diego were associated with gangs and five with domestic or family violence.

Other cities in the county experienced similar trends, according to crime records obtained by KPBS. Violent crimes increased by between 1% and 50% from 2019 to 2020 in Oceanside, Coronado, Escondido, La Mesa and Chula Vista. Every city except Coronado, which had no murders in 2019 or 2020, saw an increase in murders during 2020.

Overall violent crime was down in Carlsbad by 7% and National City by 4%. Other cities in the county have yet to provide their 2020 crime data to KPBS.

Violent Crime in San Diego County, 2019-2020

The crime story in San Diego is far different from many other large metro areas, which saw considerable spikes in their murder rates, according to FBI data.

RELATED: Massive 1-Year Rise In Homicide Rates Collided With The Pandemic In 2020

Consider that by the end of 2020 murders in Chicago jumped more than 50%, while Los Angeles and New York saw increases of 30% and 40%, respectively. The average increase for cities with more than 1 million people was 29% through the end of September 2020, the FBI data show.

One San Diego resident who watched the City Council presentation questioned the accuracy of the police department’s numbers and wanted more transparency in how the statistics were collected.

“That’s the way that we’re going to be able to build a bridge of trust back from the community to the police station,” said Francine Maxwell, who lives in City Council District 4, which covers Lincoln Park and Oak Park.

Adina Watey, a resident of District 3, which covers downtown San Diego, said that the decreasing crimes citywide should be taken into consideration when determining the next police budget.

RELATED: City Leaders Begin ‘No Shots Fired’ Program To Reduce Gun Violence

“The police department’s budget has been increasing at a higher rate than any other department in the city, and yet these crime rates are minor changes, it seems like practically stagnant,” Watey said. “I hope that as we go into this budget cycle, you continue to think about what things you can do to prevent crime that does not involve adding more officers on the streets.”

Those comments were echoed by Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera, who represents areas such as City Heights. He said he would like to see more investment in childhood programs that can help prevent crime in the long term.

“Holistically thinking about taking care of our community, loving our community, providing opportunity and hope will make a safer community here in San Diego for everyone,” Elo-Rivera said. “Hope that we can lean into those efforts just as much as the more direct ways that we deal with interrupting criminal activity.”

KPBS student assistant Katy Stegall contributed to this story.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.