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SANDAG report: San Diego County's arrest rates drop in 2020

A pair of handcuffs in shown in this undated file photo.
Alexander Nguyen
A pair of handcuffs is shown in this undated file photo.

San Diego County's felony arrest rates dropped by 14% and misdemeanor arrest rates decreased 38% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a report released Tuesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

The report also found that Black people were overrepresented in all arrest categories in 2020 and Hispanic people were overrepresented in some, compared to their respective proportions of the population. White people and those who represented "other" races/ethnicities were generally underrepresented, according to the findings.

"These data clearly show that 2020 was an unprecedented year for arrests made in the San Diego region," said Cynthia Burke, SANDAG director of research and program management. "A number of factors could have contributed to these significant declines, including a statewide stay-home order that presented fewer opportunities for crimes to occur and reduced contact between potential victims and mandated reporters, such as teachers."


Arrest rates reached seven-year lows in 2020 for both adults and juveniles. The average daily arrests for adults dropped to 163, down from 237 in 2019. However, around a third of arrests were at the felony level in 2020, up from around a quarter as recently as 2016.

For adults, arrests for a violent offense decreased the least — 11% — from 2019 to 2020, while "other" offenses decreased the most — 41%. For juveniles, property crime arrests decreased the least — 13% — while arrests for weapon offenses decreased the most — 45%.

"Although arrest numbers were predominately down, there were double- digit one-year increases for four arrest types for adults, including felony, arson, homicide, felony other drug, and felony narcotics," the report reads. "Juvenile arrestees saw an increase in felony burglary and motor vehicle theft."

The jurisdictions with the lowest arrest rates in 2020 were Carlsbad and Solana Beach, and those with the highest were Escondido and El Cajon.

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