Does crime pay in Hayward?

Brian White, Keanu Estrada, and Maximino Cisneros

The city of Hayward, like many other Bay Area cities, is experiencing a spike in its crime rate that is increasing exponentially faster than the national average, according to the 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report.

The crime report is compiled from more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. The agency estimated that the Bay Area experienced a 4.1 percent increase in violent crimes as well as an estimated 1.3 percent decrease in property crime.

However, Hayward, with a population of 157,157 people, is one of the larger Bay Area cities to be undergoing an increase in both the property crime rate, 3.5 percent, and the violent crime rate, 13.5 percent. There were 631 violent crimes and 4,641 property crimes recorded in 2016, all listed by the crime report. Many students say the statistics have spawn concerns among the California State University, East Bay community about property related crimes occurring not only in Hayward, but neighboring San Leandro as well.

A CSUEB student with family in San Leandro, who asked for anonymity, has been a victim of a vehicle break-in. His family, they said, was sleeping when their car was broken into outside their home and could not help but feel helpless and irritated.

According to the Hayward Police Department’s crime mapping website, there have been 562 accounts of criminal activity from Oct. 1  to the morning of Oct. 30. The most prevalent crimes being 126 accounts of motor vehicle thefts, 101 accounts of larceny and 71 accounts vehicle break-ins.

Cal State East Bay student Cameron Ryczek was another victim of a vehicle break-in. He was leaving his apartment in Hayward to attend class when he noticed that the driver’s side window of his Jeep Wrangler was shifted out of place. Unfortunately, his backpack that contained his notebooks and study guides for his classes and a few other belongings were taken from the vehicle.

HPD’s strategic plan, from the year 2012 and onward, has been to solve the problem in the city through a series of tactics to not only help reduce the crime rate but to resolve the fear of crime that exists in the community.

One tactic is enhancing and continuing their community policing outreach for violent crime and effectiveness such as encouraging project planning that focuses on neighborhood problem solving and service innovations. Another tactic is increasing violence reduction and safety awareness by maintaining community participation in the Volunteer Ambassador Program.

Their strategy may be an effective one against violent crimes, however, it does not directly address how the strategy will be effective against property related crimes since the most prevalent criminal act is vehicle theft. They have released their policy on vehicle pursuits outlining only four circumstances when the police officer can initiate a pursuit. Circumstances that would prohibit the officers from pursuing a stolen vehicle.

They are bound to pursue only violent offenders and not criminals who are committing vehicle theft. It begs the question, if they cannot pursue stolen vehicles then what can they do? Their policy states the following: “Officers may engage in vehicular pursuits only when the officer can articulate the following factors are present:

  • (a)  When a violator is driving in a non-hazardous manner but willfully failing to yield to emergency lights and siren the officer may continue to follow the vehicle unless the driving behavior or circumstances change that would make it unsafe to continue, or
  • (b)  When the violator is believed to be a violent felon who poses a significant, ongoing threat to public safety.
  • (c)  When the violator is believed to be a violent misdemeanant, armed, and poses a significant and ongoing threat to public safety.
  • (d)  Pursuits of suspected intoxicated drivers where the driving of the subject PRIOR to the attempted stop already presented an intolerable risk of injury or death to persons other than the subject. The seriousness of the offense and the threat posed by the fleeing suspect(s) must justify the vehicle pursuit.”

Despite the crime occurring in the city, it is best to stay vigilant as a member of the Hayward community and contact the Hayward Police Department to inform them of any criminal activity to help make Hayward a safer place.