Residents wondering if city is safe as police report sixth homicide of 2021

The latest reported data show violent crimes in the city remained study, but that the overall crime rate remains high.

The 2019 crime rate in Palm Springs was the highest in the desert. A crime rate describes the number of crimes reported to law enforcement agencies for every 100,000 persons within a population. (Photo courtesy City-Data.com)

Palm Springs police on Saturday said an unattended death originally reported July 30 in the Ruth Hardy Park neighborhood has been ruled a homicide.

According to police, the department is working with the Riverside County Sheriffs Department Forensic Identification Unit and the Riverside County District Attorney’s office to investigate the case. No further details are being released at this time, including the name of the victim or the circumstances surrounding the death. The Riverside County Coroner’s Office has no record of the death, which was reported in the 1100 block of Via Colusa more than a week ago.

The homicide is the second in the city during the month of July and the sixth this year, raising the total homicides in the city to one more than the five reported in 2020. On July 8, a 19-year-old Indio woman who was a passenger in a car traveling through the Desert Highlands Gateway Estates neighborhood died after being shot in the back when a bullet pierced the side of the vehicle she was riding in at approximately 2:40 AM.

The increase in homicides, as well as reports of gunfire in the north part of the city following the July 8 incident, has many neighbors alarmed. Some have asked on social media whether violent crimes are on the rise. Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shared July 21 by The Post on Nextdoor, shows reports of violent crimes in Palm Springs remained steady between 2009 and 2019. During that same period, however, the city’s crime rate was 92 percent higher than other cities in the country.

The latest incident comes at a time the city is struggling to attract new police officers. For nearly a year, the Palm Springs Police Department has had six vacant and five frozen positions, as well as multiple officers out with long-term injuries. It recently began offering a $30,000 hiring bonus in an effort to attract more officers. In addition, city leaders are conducting a nationwide search to replace outgoing Police Chief Bryan Reyes, who is set to retire later this month.