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Newspaper, police officials: Anaheim crime on decline

The headline on Orange County Register’s lead story Wednesday: “Anaheim sees decline in crime rates.”photo

A significant reduction in gang crime played a role in the city’s drop in violent crime, police officials told the newspaper.

Crime wasn’t only front-page news; it was front and center Wednesday morning at the police department’s monthly crime analysis meeting.

Police officials said that the downward crime trends noted in the Register’s story have continued into 2014.

Through mid-February, gang, violent and property crimes are down, and there hasn’t been a homicide in Anaheim since October.

The main items on the rise: officer-initiated contacts and calls for service.

But one subject not generating as many calls: homelessness.

The police department’s month-old Homeless Liaison Program, which pairs officers with mental health experts, is already having an impact.

Working with the Coast-to-Coast Foundation, police officers have reunited 12 people with family members from as far away as Florida.

Police officials are looking to expand how they deal with the mentally ill to their jails.

Officer Robert Conklin shared the story of a homeless man who kept being arrested for trespassing at Disneyland. He said he was hearing voices from an old girlfriend, telling him to meet her there.

Investigators tracked down his family, and within a few days, his mother packed him in a car and returned with him to Utah – to get him help.

“Enforcement is our responsibility and if you are homeless or mentally ill and you break the law you will go to jail,” Conklin said. “But after they are in custody, we ask that you engage. Why are they homeless? What issue are you facing? See if there is mental illness there and let’s see if we can get them on an improved path?”

The Register reported that:

– Overall violent crime dropped 11 percent
– Property crime was down 5 percent
– Gang shootings plummeted 62 percent

Finally, Sgt. Craig Friesen said KNBC-TV recently rode along with the department’s human trafficking experts and the report is expected to air tonight.

To read the Register’s story, click here. Warning: you must be a subscriber to read it.

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