ANTIOCH -- Although the city has had nearly twice as many homicides in the first half of this year as last, its overall crime rate is down nearly 15 percent.
Antioch's combined total of violent and property crimes fell from 3,005 in the first half of 2012 to 2,568 over the same period this year, a decrease of 14.5 percent, according to police statistics released last week.
"I'm happy that we're showing a better crime picture than at this time last year," chief Allan Cantando said. "Hopefully, this is a trend that continues. But there is still a lot of work to do."
Councilman Gary Agopian added: "We've had a couple of good quarters, and some things broke our way, but it doesn't mean problem solved."
Violent crime decreased by 3.9 percent, mainly because of a 4.7 percent dip in aggravated assaults.
The number of homicides jumped from four to seven, including four in June alone. An 83-year-old man also died that month, weeks after an assault in a parking lot.
Burglaries, which spiked the past two years, fell 18.9 percent in the first half of 2013.
During Saturday's Coffee with the Cops meeting, Cantando told the crowd of about 70 residents there are likely several reasons why the crime rate fell, including that last year crime was especially bad in the city.
Cantando credited residents for keeping their eyes peeled for suspicious activity and forming Neighborhood Watch programs. He also said police arrested a few repeat offenders.
Antioch has been in what city leaders have coined a "crime emergency." It is trying to find ways to bolster its understaffed police department, most recently putting a sales tax measure on the November ballot.
The department, which had 126 sworn officers in 2007, now has 84 full-time positions filled, but only 74 officers working on full duty, Cantando said Saturday.
Despite the shortage, average police response times for top priority calls dropped from 11 minutes, 4 seconds to 10 minutes, 56 seconds. The department's goal is 7 minutes.
"It shows that if it's possible when police are in reactive mode, just imagine what can happen if they are able to do more proactive work," Councilwoman Monica Wilson said.
The number of arrests declined from 2,096 to 1,946, or 7.2 percent.
"It seems like the police are doing everything they can, but they are limited by their lack of resources," four-year resident Jon Smithey said after Saturday's meeting.
Carlos Sweeney, a 27-year resident, said anytime something happens on his court, there are "two or three sets of eyes" watching.
"I think people are starting to realize if they don't get involved then nothing's going to change," he said.
Many residents said they don't feel safe. Police say they often field complaints about gunshots and burglaries, and Agopian said he's been hearing from frustrated residents who say they would "move if they could."
Chris Coles-Morales questioned the statistics and said crime is increasing throughout Antioch.
Her neighborhood, hit hard by burglaries earlier this year, hasn't had any crime in a month, but there is a lot of loitering, she said.
Cantando will give a more detailed report at Tuesday's City Council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the city's Public Works Building, 1201 W. Fourth St.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.