Report: Violent crime rate in East Palo Alto plunges

City saw a large drop in aggravated assaults in 2014

After decades of notoriety, East Palo Alto's violent crime rate has plunged by 64 percent in one year, according to a newly released Federal Bureau of Investigation report.

The 2014 Crime in the United States report is based on information provided by local law enforcement agencies.

The astonishing statistic covers a year when the city of roughly 29,400 residents had four interim police chiefs. New Police Chief Albert Pardini took the helm in November 2014, replacing Ronald Davis, who ran the department for eight years until November 2013.

East Palo Alto's violent crimes declined from 347 incidents in 2013 to 124 in 2014, according to the report. The city had the greatest drop in aggravated assaults, which plunged from 248 to 56. The city had eight cases of murder or manslaughter in 2013 and five in 2014. The number of rapes dropped from 11 to eight and robberies from 80 to 55.

Pardini said the crime reduction in 2014 largely took place before he became police chief, but he vowed to keep addressing violent crime. He said the most significant change he has seen since November is the community's involvement.

"They are calling us early so we can get involved before things escalate. We've done a lot of intervention, and that has reduced the violent crime," he told the Weekly.

The department has had a 70 percent increase in tip-line activity since he took over, Pardini said. The police department also runs domestic-violence awareness programs as well as provides education about gangs to families, so they will know if their children are starting to enter the gang life.

The department holds monthly precinct meetings, at which people can meet officers and discuss neighborhood problems with them. Officers also attend community meetings set up by residents to observe and discuss problems specific to a street or neighborhood.

Rarely a week goes by when officers are not called to attend one of these meetings, Pardini said.

The chief also holds quarterly town hall meetings, at which he makes presentations to the community. He often walks different neighborhoods with a commander to meet residents in their front yards and get to know them. And people have been forthcoming with information about crimes and community problems, he said.

The department is also using its website to post weekly updates and information as well as to quell rumors.

The combination of police presence in the community, familiarity with residents and transparency appears to be paying off. Summer months are usually when cities see higher homicide rates, but this summer was the first in three years with two back-to-back months without a homicide in East Palo Alto, Pardini said.

"In 2014, we had a homicide in July, August, September and October. This year we had none in August and September," he said.

Per capita in 2014, East Palo Alto had 53 percent less violent crime than San Francisco and roughly 25 percent more than San Jose, according to FBI numbers.

Compared to surrounding cities, East Palo Alto had 4.79 times more violent crimes per capita than Palo Alto, 2.7 times more than Menlo Park and 2.1 times more than Mountain View.

East Palo Alto residents who want to work with the police department to further reduce the crime rate and learn more about what is going on in the city can visit the East Palo Alto Police Department's website at and on Facebook at

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31 people like this
Posted by Mikey
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2015 at 1:35 pm

I think that's....really good news! I am happy to read that - so often all the news is bad news, so its really nice to hear about something going well. Keep it up!

14 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 12, 2015 at 2:02 pm

There is tons of good news going on. However, the "if it bleeds, it leads" philosophy of the mainstream media usually pushes the good news to the back pages unless it is really extraordinary.

10 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm

It's sort of a mixed bag with East Palo Alto. If people really finally realize it's mostly a pretty safe place and there is cheap real estate -- watch out, gentrification will change the place overnight.

Only 2X more crime than Mtn Vw, for example, is a pretty decent record.

39 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

This is great news for East Palo Alto! We have lived here since 2009, and love to see the positive changes in the community. Take away fact from this article: San Francisco is now twice as dangerous as EPA.

8 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Congratulations to East Palo Alto. I am noting that you have great buildings in excess of four stories at University and 101. And a beautiful high-end hotel. Very impressive. You are ahead of the Palo Alto people who do not want a building in excess of 4 stories. I love that professional architectural look.
Keep up the good work. You are getting more commercial help with the big box stores and lots of business and work at Home Depot and other stores. You are making the right moves.

24 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Congratulations to EPA! Great work by the community.

And to those Palo Alto Forward millennials complaining about expensive housing EPA is the last frontier to go, before it's too late. Instead of trying to cram into an established community build a better community by yourselves. You are young and have time. It can be done. You will reap the rewards as well, just as older generations have done in Palo Alto.

12 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 12, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Gentrification is the key. It was only a matter of time before the money follows the prime real estate. As others have pointed out on this thread, this transformation has already taken place in what was known as Whiskey Gulch and much of the surrounding neighborhoods situated west of the 101 freeway. It's the best thing that can happen to East Palo Alto and the region as a whole. The community becomes safer, new building takes place, young families begin to move in, crime and neglect get pushed out, and property values soar. I applaud East Palo Alto for taking the steps to make this happen.

10 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2015 at 11:45 am

Congratulations, East PA! I'm happy for each of your citizens who can sleep a littler easier and lose fewer loved ones.

I just hope the gentrification hasn't driven out many of those who deserve to experience the improvements.

3 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

This is great news. I hope that the city can continue experiencing a reduction in crime for many years to come.

5 people like this
Posted by Landlord
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I bought many rentals in EPA since 2008. Yes EPA is changing positively! Congratulations to EPA, it is going to be a great community! Easy commute, affordable price!
I applaud East Palo Alto for taking the steps to make this happen.

8 people like this
Posted by mutti allen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I've worked in EPA for almost 20 years and have watched the neighborhoods get better and better. But it makes me sad that families are losing their housing because rents are going up so much. When I learn that a man who is a cook at Google -- stable job, stable family -- can't live there any more I'm not so sure the 'improvement' is worth it.

11 people like this
Posted by Best Wishes, EPA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

This is good news for our East PA neighbors. I wish them the continued comfort of a safe and healthy community.

7 people like this
Posted by dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 13, 2015 at 2:42 pm

[Post removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2015 at 2:10 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Qflux
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 11, 2016 at 4:00 am

Agreed Mutti... was much better when it lead the nation in murders. The real villains are the bastards so desperate to live SOMEWHERE they're willing to pay $600/Sq ft for "only" double the violent crime rate of Mt View. Lol

1 person likes this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 13, 2016 at 8:05 am

"The real villains are the bastards so desperate to live SOMEWHERE they're willing to pay $600/Sq ft for "only" double the violent crime rate of Mt View."

What do you expect them to do? They have to live somewhere. Shallow Alto drags it's privileged feet when it comes to building affordable housing and Mountain View can't build it fast enough. Besides, these new arrivals are what is lowering the crime rate so dramatically in EPA.

1 person likes this
Posted by Don't believe the hype
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm

EPA is not ready for prime time. There are still gangs there and crime. 4th of July had tons of gun shots flying in the air. Just the facts. There's a reason why homes stay on the market for so long there and when they sell it's just a greedy foreign investor looking to rent it out for an exorbitant price.

Like this comment
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2016 at 1:24 am

Yes, well what do you expect, finally East Palo Alto is starting to get some investment
and gentrification ... there is always room to build new stuff for rich people, but never
much investment for the poor. Where are these people going to? Has anyone studied

However there is still an unacceptable level of violence in EPA as far as I can see and
what I read. Lots of good new stuff, and where do the criminals move to? What local
or nearby area is having spikes in their crime rate?

Like this comment
Posted by Karma
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 3:33 am

Being an empath, wish we could all get along and live amongst eachother, but that'll never happen. But hey, wasn't making it out the ghetto all we ever wanted? Maybe not so much in these terms but at least we're still alive.... not so much of a life you might say; yeah... well maybe not in this life but in the afterlife..... ~karma~

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