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By Tim Hunt

Soaring assault rate in Livermore

Uploaded: Jul 9, 2013

When the Pleasanton Weekly ran the 2012 crime stats for Tri-Valley communities, the numbers for Livermore jumped out.
In same categories, Livermore had substantially higher crime counts, particularly felony aggravated assaults. Livermore police reported to the FBI 254 assaults in 2012 as compared to 26 in Pleasanton, and 29 in San Ramon, both cities with populations within about 10 percent of Livermore, the valley's largest city at 82,400.
Burglary was nearly twice Pleasanton's total at 310 for Livermore versus 165 here and 147 in San Ramon. In summary, Livermore reported 2,113 part 1 crimes vs. 1,336 in Pleasanton. Notably, 31 percent of the larceny and thefts reported in Pleasanton took place at Stoneridge mall—Livermore's factory outlet mall was open only for about one month of last year.
For complete chart, please click here. (§ion_id=1). The source was the Pleasanton Police Department that compiled the stats for the surrounding cities.
I spoke with Lt. Lance Bye, a veteran of 26 years of the Livermore Police Dept. who oversees the records department.
Without drilling down into each aggravated assault, he could not definitely establish why Livermore has such a higher crime rate. He did observe that Livermore has significantly different demographics than San Ramon and Pleasanton and also, traditionally, has had more ex-cons on parole or probation living in the city.
The demographic shift in Livermore has been dramatic. Since the two national labs were established in the 1950s, Livermore has had a very broad middle class with very few high-income earners and not too many really poor people.
That has shifted dramatically in the last 15 years. The city has more upscale people living in the newer neighborhoods on the south side near the vineyards and the core city bounded by Portola, Junction, Railroad and Murietta has grown significant more ethnic and poorer.
I was a leader in the consortium of community groups that worked to help Marylin Avenue School turn around—it reached 807 on the latest testing results after starting 12 years ago under 600. When we started, the school population was neither poor enough (low 30 percent of the students qualified for a free or reduced price lunch) nor ethnic enough (English-language learners were similar numbers).
Now, 54 percent of students are learning English (the vast majority is from Mexico) and 79 percent qualify for free or reduced price lunches. Less than half of the parents graduated from high school.
Lt. Bye cited the demographic difference and, when asked about gangs in Livermore, responded that there are gangs in Livermore and policing them is one of the top three priorities of the department.
"Most communities have gangs—Livermore has gangs within the city limits. It is not as bad as cities in the Central Valley, but we do devote resources to it," Bye said. "Overall, Livermore is still a safe community where you can walk on most streets day or night."
He also cited City Council and city staff policies over the years that have tried to keep Livermore as an affordable place to live with higher density housing. I would debate that in some recent years when the focus was on downtown and upscale entertainment, but agree on the overall policy view. level.
The lieutenant also said that he routinely reads the logs for neighboring communities and Livermore has lots more activity than Pleasanton or Dublin.