Police strategize to address climbing murder rate in San Bernardino

Marvin Ramirez looked dazed and confused as officers walked him to a police car. He was arrested for the murder of 39-year-old Thurston Watkins of Studio City.

Ramirez, from Covina, was also mostly naked wearing only socks and shoes when taken into custody.

Eileen Hards with San Bernardino Police Department said it was around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night when police got a call of an "altercation" at the house in the 1600 block of 26th Street.

The two reportedly were drinking, something went wrong and when police arrived they found Watkin's body in the backyard. The scene was described as brutal and grizzly.

This was the 49th homicide in the city of San Bernardino. Last year at this time, there were 20.

Why the high number?

"We don't have a pinpointed reason," Hards said. "A lot of the crimes do not seem to be related."

A study in May of cities with over 100,000 people had San Bernardino as the 'Most Dangerous City in California' based on crime, police presence and other factors.

"I don't know that we're the most dangerous, you can paint numbers and make it look like a lot of different things," Hards said in response.

However, the study did find a correlation between the crime rate and poverty. This is an area that was hit hard by the housing crisis and tops the list of cities with a high poverty rate. Other factors, according to the study, included California's high cost of living and stagnant wages.

Hards said police are taking steps to be more visible and are hiring more officers.

"We are upping our patrols units to have more proactive policing in the city," she added.

The bottom line?

"We do have numbers that reflect a dangerous city, but again, I think that we are at a point that we can change that as a community and change that as a police department."

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