Merced County was ranked number one in California for having the highest rate of homicides in the year 2010, according to statistics from the Department of Justice.
The rate of homicides in 2010 was approximately 10 per 100,000 people. Even though there were more homicides reported in other counties, the rate of homicides per 100,000 people was still lower than Merced. For example, Sacramento reported 91 homicides in 2010, which is approximately 6.5 killings per 100,000 people. However, Merced County still takes the lead of having the highest homicide rate in California.
In 2010, there were a total of twenty-eight homicides in Merced County. In 2010 the city of Merced reported seven homicides and the sheriff’s department reported fourteen in its jurisdiction, six of which were gang affiliated. Los Banos reported two homicides, while Atwater reported five. From 2009 to 2010 there was a 27% increase in homicides in Merced County.
On the other hand, homicides decreased statewide from 2009 to 2010 by about 7.8 percent. Although the number is high, the rate of solving reported crimes has been high for five consecutive years.
Homicide victims on 2010 data showed that 80.3% were male and 19.7% were female. Race was reported to be 44.5 % Latino, 29.6 % African-American, 18.2 % white, and 7.2 % as other.
Additionally, 44.4% of homicides involved a relationship between the victim and offender that was considered friend or associate. Firearms represent 71.2% of homicides involving weapons. Other data concludes that 36.1% of homicides were a result of gang related altercations.
In 2011 homicides decreased to fifteen people in Merced County, while there were twenty-eight in 2010.
UC Merced senior, Mayra Hernandez stated, “From the high homicide rate in Merced County, I realize the danger in which people of the Central Valley live in. I feel that this creates tension and hostility between the people in the community, which can later lead to distrust of neighbors and others around us. As a student I feel a bit of an obligation to be conscious of such information, especially knowing that most of us students aren’t from around the area.”
Hernandez encourages starting various outreach programs to help young kids know that there is life outside gangs and problems.
As of the beginning of the year, there have already been two homicides reported in Merced County within the same week.