The California Department of Justice just released crime statistics for last year. Those stats show our county has the highest murder rate in the state. But the truth is even worse. The KGET Homicide Tracker proves local police agencies are significantly under-reporting the number of killings.
On our Homicide Tracker, you’ll find the names and stories of 101 people killed in Kern County last year, but the state reports only 89 homicides.
Our records show, in 2017 there were six deadly officer-involved shootings, but the state use of force report only cites four.
We dug into the data to find out why there was a difference.
The Bakersfield Police Department didn’t report two deadly officer-involved shootings to the Department of Justice.
In January, attempted murder suspect Antonio Arturo Perez Garcia led police on a chase through northeast Bakersfield ending with a crash at Alta Vista Drive and Niles Street. Garcia allegedly got out of his car, pointed a gun at one of the officers and ran. Police shot and killed him.
In April, suspected robber Rogelio Vidal Landa was shot and killed when he ran from police after a high-speed chase.
Neither of the shootings are listed in the state’s report.
Additionally, local agencies did not report deadly-officer involved shootings to the state as homicide, although the state considers justifiable homicides, including officer-involved shootings as part of its report. Inmates who were killed by other inmates in prison were not listed in the report. Also, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department only reported 32 of its 35 homicides.
Even with these lower numbers, Kern has the worst homicide rate in the state. The state homicide rate is 4.6 killings per 100,000 people. Kern County’s rate is two and a half times higher — 11.3 per 100,000.
Statewide, arrests were made in 82-percent of cases. Compared to only 57-percent in Kern County.
In Kern cases where there was an arrest, 40 suspects were men, five women and five both men and women.
There are some areas where we are in line.
Of the homicides where the victim’s race is known, 48-percent were Hispanic, 23-percent White, 20-percent Black.
Shootings are consistently the most common occurrence of homicide, followed by stabbing and blunt force trauma.
You can see these statistics and more on our Homicide Tracker page.