San Bernardino, Ca., was California’s fourth most dangerous last year behind Compton, Oakland, and Richmond, says the Los Angeles Times. The city of 200,000 recorded 58 homicides. Nine of the 45 people slain in San Bernardino so far this year were under 18, sparking both outrage and fear in city neighborhoods. The jump in homicides is less dramatic than during the crack epidemic of the early 1990s, when Money magazine ranked San Bernardino the most dangerous place in the state.
San Bernardino is entrenched in poverty. One-third of its residents depend on welfare. Depressed housing prices have attracted buyers priced out of inner-city neighborhoods in Los Angeles and elsewhere, police and demographers said. Ss the newcomers have moved in, they’ve brought with them street gangs and increased crime. The city’s meager tax base has left it ill-equipped to handle its problems. The police force, with about 300 officers, is stretched thin. San Bernardino has about 30 percent fewer officers per capita than Los Angeles, whose force is considered understaffed. Voters tomorrow may approve a sales tax hike that would allow them to hire 40 more police officers over three years.