Berkeley police annual report: Violent crime rose 15% in 2023

Crime levels are "returning to or surpassing pre-pandemic levels," with increases across nearly all major violent and property crimes, BPD said.

Berkeley police annual report: Violent crime rose 15% in 2023
A robbery arrest in Southside Berkeley in August 2023. Ariel Nava Photo

Serious crime was up 10.5% in Berkeley in 2023, driven largely by increases in robbery and auto theft, BPD reported to the City Council last week.

Berkeley's annual crime report takes place each March and offers a look at significant crime trends as well as projects underway in the Berkeley Police Department.

BPD said crime levels were "returning to or surpassing pre-pandemic levels," with increases across nearly all major violent and property crime categories that are tracked annually.

Those increases are "part of a trend in the East Bay," Berkeley police said, with similar increases in preliminary data from Oakland and Richmond.

Serious crime saw a 10.5% increase in Berkeley in 2023. BPD

Violent crime saw a 15% increase in Berkeley last year, with sex crimes and robbery both rising.

Pedestrian robberies and carjackings were both up significantly in Berkeley last year.

Armed robberies saw a five-year high, with 29% of Berkeley robberies involving a gun last year.

Property crime was up about 10%, with burglary, auto theft and arson all increasing.

Exceptions were homicides, down from 3 in 2022 to 1 in 2023, and larceny, which dropped slightly. Serious assaults were flat.

BPD also noted that injury and non-injury shootings were down in 2023 when compared to spikes in 2021 and 2022, but still remain "substantially higher" than in other recent years.

Injury and non-injury shootings in Berkeley from 2017 to 2023. BPD

Hate crimes on the rise in Berkeley

Berkeley also saw an increase in hate crimes in 2023: up to 46 last year from 38 in 2022, with antisemitic hate crimes in particular having become more common since Oct. 7.

BPD said there were 10 antisemitic hate crimes in 2023: five in the nine months before Oct. 7 and five in the nearly three months afterward.

There were two anti-Arab hate crimes reported in all of 2023, BPD said.

As for hate incidents — which don't rise to the level of a crime — there were 18 last year that were linked to antisemitism (including 13 after Oct. 7) and four that were classified as anti-Arab or anti-Muslim (with none after Oct. 7), BPD said.

Other highlights from Berkeley's 2023 crime report

  • Berkeley 911 calls were at their highest level in five years, with around 14,100 in 2023
  • Officer-initiated calls were at a five-year low, from a high of more than 20,000 in 2019 to around 15,000 last year
  • Berkeley had about 64,000 calls for service in total
  • Gun recoveries were at a five-year low, with 69 guns seized in 2023 compared to 119 the prior year
  • BPD staffing remained at a historic low, with 153 sworn officers on the force (but closer to 127 available for full, solo duty)
  • BPD officers are spending more time on each call and handling more calls per shift
  • The median response time for the most serious BPD calls was 7 minutes ("meeting regional standards")
  • BPD said its crime clearance rates are "tracking similarly" to other cities "for the most part"
  • BPD said its analysis of department data found no systemic bias in officer-initiated car stops or searches during police stops, with "yield rates" during searches similar across racial groups
  • BPD said uses of force were also similar across racial groups when using arrests as a baseline
  • There were seven internal and Police Accountability Board investigations into BPD uses of force in 2023, none of which found misconduct, BPD said
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More resources on BPD crime stats

Editor's note on Berkeley crime data

Berkeley crime trends in 2023: What you need to know
Which Berkeley crimes went up last year and which went down? We pored over the 2023 data to bring you the trends and highlights.

The Scanner published a rundown of 2023 Berkeley crime trends in January, which found many similar highlights as those reported last week.

The exact numbers may be different for a couple of key reasons.

  • For tracking day-to-day and historic crime tallies, The Scanner uses BPD's Transparency Hub data portal, which calculates numbers slightly differently than federal reporting standards
  • Unlike BPD data, The Scanner's comprehensive Berkeley gunfire map includes freeway shootings reported to the CHP and gunfire on UCPD property, leading to slight differences from BPD totals
Berkeley shootings in 2023: The definitive gunfire map
Berkeley had 35 shootings in 2023 with eight people wounded. BPD also had two fatal police shootings.

Other major public safety stories in Berkeley in 2023

Read more about policing, crime trends and deep dives on The Berkeley Scanner.

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