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Crime is rising and will continue to climb unless the Police Department gets more funding, San Diego’s top cop warned a City Council committee Wednesday.

The comments came as the committee considered a $66 million plan to rebuild the Police Department over the next five years. Police want to hire more cops and civilian staff, buy new equipment and repair existing facilities.

After years of budget cuts, police argue their resources — especially staffing — have become stretched too thin and crime is getting out of their control.

“It’s starting to get away from us a little bit,” Police Chief Bill Lansdowne told the committee. “It’s my professional belief that the crime rate will continue to rise.”

Police statistics back up the trend so far this year. Between January and May, San Diego police reported a 12.6 percent jump in major crimes compared to the same period in the previous year.

While rising crime is always a concern, a sustained rise would mark a historic shift in local and nationwide trends. Crime has gradually decreased to record lows from a peak in the 1990s.

Lansdowne attributed the recent rise in crime to budget reductions, an increasing number of mental health-related calls and a new shift in the statewide prison population.

Other local law enforcement officials have also noted the increase in crime, but not expressed as much confidence in what’s causing the trend as Lansdowne. County officials, for example, have said it’s still premature to blame the prison shift.

For more on local crime trends, check out this online database maintained by Sandag.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He writes about local government, creates infographics and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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