California’s state parks sit on 1.3 million acres of public land, visited by millions of residents and visitors to the state, but people are expressing increasing concern about the rising rate of dangerous crime in some of California’s most beautiful places.
A Doubling of Crime Since 1999
According to a report by McClatchy Newspapers, crime has more than doubled in the past decade in California’s 278 state parks, rising to 170 incidents per day in 2009.
The report says most of the crimes are minor: loud noise, abuse of alcohol, and vandalism. But there are more serious crimes in parks, including physical attacks and sexual assaults. The Sacramento Bee says the parks with the most serious crime problems tend to be those with beaches, with areas for off-road vehicle use and those state parks with lakes that accommodate boats and other watercraft.
The Bee notes that on a per capita basis, the eight parks with off-road recreation areas have a crime rate and safety incident rate seven times higher than average for other state parks.
Underreported and Understaffed
The paper says it’s very likely that state park crime is underreported; almost 30 percent of the state’s 339 park ranger positions are currently vacant. That means there simply are not enough rangers to adequately police the hundreds of parks and more than a million acres of land.
Nonetheless, California is legally bound to police its property and reasonably provide for the safety of users of public property. When someone is injured or killed on public property due to the negligence of public employees or a dangerous condition allowed by the state, the government can be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death claims under the theory of property owner negligence.
If you or a family member has been hurt at a state park due to criminal behavior, contact a California personal injury attorney who can assess the case and help determine who is liable for the damages. A personal injury lawyer protects your rights and helps you receive the compensation you deserve.