Merced

Report: Hundreds cycled through jail via zero-dollar bail, crime soared in Merced in 2021

Crime and its nasty side effects continued an upward trajectory in the City of Merced last year, police officials told members of the city council on Monday night.

Lawmakers received a briefing on the city’s crime rate and force utilization from leaders of the Merced Police Department.

Currently, the department is staffed with 98 sworn officers and 40 professional positions.

The overall workload of the department increased in 2021 compared to the year before.

Year-over-year, the department had 5,600 more responses to general incidents, 1,300 more priority responses, 3,200 more 911 calls, 3,100 more outgoing calls and nearly 50 more medical aid calls. 

With an increased workload, the average response time rose from 4:51 in 2020 to 5:07 in 2021. 

The top incident for dispatch calls was for disturbances, with 8,551 such calls, 200 more than the year before. Suspicious person calls placed second but decreased by 300 from 2020 to total 4,762. 

Animal related calls (4,108), alarm calls (3,374) and municipal code violations (2,529) rounded out the top five. 

Universal crime reporting data showed only a four percent increase in crimes against people. Murder increased by 86 percent from seven to 13, rape fell by eight percent from 40 to 37, robbery droped 18 percent from 133 to 109 and assuslt rose by seven percent from 1,210 to 1,258. 

On the other hand, crimes against property rose by 29 percent as theft, auto theft and arson all experienced drastic increases. Burglary was the only property crime to fall, experiencing a 25 percent drop. 

In total, the Merced Police Department made 4,600 arrests last year, with 756 people booked for felony offenses, 268 people cited for felony offenses and granted zero-dollar bail and 329 guns logged into evidence. 

The Disruptive Area Response Team (DART), which has four officers, recorded 856 contacts with homeless individuals. That resulted in 111 people who accepted services from DART and 760 clean-ups. 

Merced also had 11 fatalities from vehicle collisions, and the department made 325 Driving Under the Influence arrests. 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.