The latest annual crime tallies for the City of Hollister show that 2017 was less violent and slightly more larcenous than previous years, but the city’s acting police chief says the police department and its staff measure their success by much more than statistics.
“We’re not the type to point to statistics. We don’t want to ride that wave,” Hollister Police Department Capt. Carlos Reynoso said one recent afternoon at the police station on Apollo Way. “We stick to the basics—patrol, visibility on the streets, officer accessibility. We try to reach out (to the residents) as much as we can.”
A key measure of these benchmarks is how willing the public is to report suspected crimes or potential emergencies as they see them. By this measure, Reynoso thinks HPD is on the right track.
As a recent example, he pointed to the arrest of three young men Jan. 30 who were allegedly hanging out in the parking lot of Jack in the Box, drinking alcohol and displaying handguns. Multiple witnesses called police to report the public display of handguns, and officers arrived to arrest the three suspects.
“Thanks to those people who called, we showed up,” Reynoso said. “You don’t want to live in a community where people don’t call police. If crime is down in a community, it’s thanks to the citizens who call.”
HPD “part one” crime statistics are broken down by category on the police department’s section of the city’s website. The disclosure of these annual and monthly stats—known as “uniform crime reporting”—is required by the California Department of Justice, which provides the information to the FBI.
Part one crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft. In Hollister, which has a population of about 37,800, authorities reported a total of 730 part one crimes for 2017. That number is the lowest annual part one crime total reported by HPD in the last six years. The highest part one crime total in that time period was 1,115 in 2012.
Specifically, the 2017 stats include one homicide, 18 rapes, 282 assaults, 252 incidents of larceny and 73 vehicle thefts in Hollister.
HPD Sgt. Don Pershall noted that some of the city’s public safety challenges don’t jump out from the UCR charts. These include what officers have seen as a rise in prescription drug use among high school students, and an increase of minors in possession of marijuana.
The stats reported on HPD’s website also include traffic offenses. Total moving violations increased in 2017 (with 1,864 reported), as they have steadily since 2012. Incidents of DUI have also increased since 2012, with 225 reported in 2017 (up from 147 in 2016).
Total arrests of adults numbered 1,321 in 2017, with 151 juveniles arrested the same year, according to HPD’s crime statistics.
The numbers also show the HPD staffing lags behind the rest of the nation, with .91 officers per 1,000 residents. The national average for police agencies is 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents.
Downtown safety up
Downtown Hollister business owners might not have a close eye on crime statistics, but one of their representatives said 2017 was a safe, successful year in the neighborhood.
“As the economy changed, the activity has changed,” Hollister Downtown Association President Daniel Recht said. He was referring to the opening of new businesses over the last couple years—such as Aroma Cellars and Hollister House Bar & Grill—that have helped bring “positive activity” to the downtown.
Recht also noted the city’s installation of public surveillance cameras throughout the downtown in recent years has helped with public safety. Authorities quickly solved a commercial burglary and extinguished a structure fire in recent months because of these cameras, Recht said.
“That really discouraged a lot of things,” he said.
One remaining challenge downtown is the growing homeless population, Recht noted. That situation has prompted some downtown business owners and employees to be a little more cautious, especially at night.
CRIME IN HOLLISTER
The numbers below depict Hollister Police Department’s incidents of crimes as reported to the state Dept. of Justice. (Numbers in parentheses represent the same category total in 2016.)
Homicide: 1 in 2017 (0 in 2016)
Rape: 18 (12)
Robbery: 33 (25)
Assault: 282 (305)
Burglary: 72 (74)
Larceny: 252 (244)
Auto theft: 73 (74)
Total: 730 (739)
Other statistics from HPD:
DUI: 225 in 2017 (147 in 2016)
Arrests, adults: 1,321 (1,265)
Arrests, juveniles: 151 (152)
Calls for service: 29,746 (28,729)
To see more Hollister crime and public safety statistics, going back to 2012, visit hollister.ca.gov/government/city-departments/police/crime-statistics/