BRENTWOOD -- The city's overall violent crime increased by 37 percent from 2011 to 2012 due to a spike in simple assaults, according to a Brentwood Police Department benchmark report released this week.
City officials are still searching for answers to what caused this jump from 329 simple assault incidents in 2011 to 524 incidents in 2012. Although a simple assault is considered a battery, it does not involve serious physical injuries or weapons.
"It is a rather significant increase and that is the highest increase in a decade," Brentwood City Councilman Erick Stonebarger said at Tuesday night's council meeting after the report was revealed.
Stonebarger later said that it is the council's responsibility to get police staffing levels to a place where Brentwood can retain its reputable quality of life. Brentwood Vice Mayor Joel Bryant noted that the police department's staffing numbers have remained the same for seven years while the city has grown in population by 20,000 residents.
The department consists of 62 sworn police officers and 20 members of the support staff, including seven community service officers.
"You really realize the quality of our department (based on the report)," Councilman Steve Barr said.
The department's proactive workload or arrests made and citations issued increased by 7.4 percent.
"This number is showing that our officers are being proactive and aggressive in their crime fighting efforts," Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson said.
The report also indicates that property crime is up 9.7 percent with an increase in mostly thefts and auto thefts. According to Evenson, the department is combating this increase by assigning extra patrols to high burglary neighborhoods, conducting special enforcement operations, working with Neighborhood Watch groups and making significant arrests.
To cut down on shoplifting incidents, Evenson said that they are establishing a Business Watch group modeled after Neighborhood Watch.
"We are doing the best we can to do outreach," he said.
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor noted the amount of speeding drivers running red lights and stop signs, especially on Fairview Avenue and Balfour Road. Evenson noted that local officers write many citations and remain focused on traffic enforcement.
"Brentwood is known as the speed city of Contra Costa County," Taylor said.