FILE - Police tape blocks a road near the scene where a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy was shot and a suspect was fatally shot in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael, Calif., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Homicides in California have risen again in the past year, as have other violent crimes, amid growing frustration as the state's top Democrats seek to keep their jobs in the upcoming election.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

FILE – Police tape blocks a road near the scene where a Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy was shot and a suspect was fatally shot in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael, Calif., Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Homicides in California have risen again in the past year, as have other violent crimes, amid growing frustration as the state’s top Democrats seek to keep their jobs in the upcoming election. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

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Homicides in California rose again last year – as did other violent crimes – amid growing frustration as the state’s top Democrats seek to keep their jobs in the upcoming election.

The state Department of Justice released its annual crime reports on Thursday, showing an increase in violent crime and property crime rates in 2021, even as the total arrest rate fell.

Californians across the state have been inundated with headlines about rising crime in recent months, from car break-ins and drug use in San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin neighborhood to street racing and grappling checks on a new $588 million bridge in Los Angeles.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta are among Democrats facing challengers in November and are struggling to explain how their policies keep the state safe. The progressive San Francisco district attorney was ousted from his post in June, and his Los Angeles counterpart has just survived a second recall attempt.

Three opponents of Bonta in the June primary all tried to raise the issue of rising crime and the Democrat’s support for criminal justice reforms when he was in the Legislative Assembly. Bonta still advanced with nearly 60% of the vote in a strongly Democratic California. But his Republican opponent in the November general election — Nathan Hochman, a former federal attorney and former deputy U.S. attorney general — continued to criticize Bonta on crime.

The new numbers “reflect what Californians experience every day: a spiral of lawlessness,” Hochman said.

Bonta’s reports noted that the current homicide count and violent crime rate remain well below historic highs set in the early 1990s, while the property crime rate is well below its all-time high of 1980. But Hochman said the comparison “demonstrates how great it is with the suffering of victims across the state today.

Bonta was in San Diego on Thursday to tout the state’s tough gun control laws, which he says are keeping homicides from getting worse.

“We all know that the epidemic of gun violence plaguing communities across our country is sickening and unacceptable,” Bonta said, not addressing the rise in homicides and violent crimes in reports from his office.

He added, “You’re less likely to be shot in California than in Texas, than in Florida, than in almost any other state in the country because of our common sense gun laws. ”

Red states are also favored targets for Newsom, who is heavily favored to beat little-known Republican Senator Brian Dahle in November. But Newsom is also seen as a potential candidate for the White House and the high crime rate at home would be an attractive target for opponents.

Thursday’s reports came two months after the Bonta Department improperly released the personal information of perhaps hundreds of thousands of gun owners into state-run databases. The state’s criminal justice data portal was offline for weeks afterward and only relaunched on Thursday after the 2021 reports were released.

There were 2,361 homicides in California last year, surpassing the 2020 figure by more than 150 deaths, according to reports. While the number remains well below the all-time high – 4,095 homicides in 1993 – last year was the deadliest year since 2007.

Three-quarters of 2021 homicides involved a firearm, and more than eight in 10 victims were male. Almost half of those killed last year were Hispanic and almost 30% were black. In contrast, about 5% of the state’s population is black and about 39% Latino, according to the 2020 census.

Around 40% were killed by strangers, 40% by friends or acquaintances and the rest by a relative – a spouse, parent or child, according to reports. More than half of the women were killed in a residence, while more than 40% of the male victims died in the street.

“Today’s report further reinforces what decades of research has shown: more guns on our streets leads to more gun violence; and community safety is inextricably linked to economic, racial and social equity,” Anne Irwin, founder and executive director of Smart Justice California, said in a statement.

The state’s violent crime rate increased from 437 per 100,000 population in 2020 to 466.2 per 100,000 in 2021. The property crime rate increased 3% in 2021 after hitting an all-time low in 2020.

Meanwhile, the total arrest rate has declined – from 2,812.3 per 100,000 people in 2020 to 2,606.3 per 100,000 in 2021 – part of a downward trend since 2004.

Bonta’s office also released a report showing a continued decline in arrests of minors, which have fallen in recent years – from nearly 63,000 in 2016 to less than 20,000 last year.

A final report described police use of force, although changes in reporting prevent easy comparisons with previous years. Last year, 660 civilians were involved in such incidents that resulted in the discharge of a firearm or the use of force that resulted in serious injury or death. By racial breakdown, half were Hispanic, a quarter white, and about 17% black.

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Thompson reported from Sacramento, Calif.

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