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As Elk Grove continues to grow, city works to expand safety services

The City of Elk Grove projects the population to hit 200,000 in the next 10 years.

A recent incident in Elk Grove involving a suspect barricading himself inside a home and shooting at police officers isn't the type of event that happens often in the suburban city.

So is crime in suburbia Sacramento on the rise?

In the last few years, the Greater Sacramento area has been experiencing an influx of people moving into the region in search of a more affordable lifestyle. Millennial professionals and young families alike are opting to settle down in quickly-growing cities such as Elk Grove, Folsom and Roseville.

The cities nestle around Sacramento and provide a quieter alternative to urban living in the metropolitan center. Elk Grove's population grew by 1.7 percent last year from the year prior to about 171,000 residents, according to the California Department of Finance.

The City of Elk Grove projects the population to hit 200,000 in the next 10 years, according to the City's public affairs manager, Kristyn Nelson.

As a city grows in numbers, it's natural to see a rise in crime rate.

But from 2015 to 2016 Elk Grove's crime rate actually dropped across the board despite there being a slight population growth, according to the Elk Grove Police Department's website.

The city only saw one homicide in both 2015 and 2016 so the murder rate remained low with no changes. The number of violent crimes outside of murder also dropped from 586 to 552.

A look back at crime rates from years prior don't show any significant changes in patterns of crime. The crime rate is steady with slight drops and rises varying year to year in a 10-year period from 2007 to 2016. During this time period Elk Grove saw an average of 1.6 murders a year with the exception of 2009, where the city saw a high of four murders.

In 2016, Elk Grove's violent crime rate was 322 per 100,000 residents, which was lower than the national rate -- an estimated 386 violent crimes per 100,000 people -- even if not by much.

In the same year, other Sacramento area cities with similar populations to Elk Grove, such as Citrus Heights, had a higher crime rate than the national average. Cities such as Auburn and West Sacramento also experienced higher crime rates than the national average despite the smaller populations.

While the crime rate in Elk Grove isn't as low as other Greater Sacramento cities such as Roseville, Rocklin and Folsom, the city is the second largest incorporated city in Sacramento County so the crime rate will be higher due to the larger population.

ABC10 reached out to the Elk Grove Police Department to see if crime rate numbers were available for 2017 but Sergeant Josh Magdaleno said the data wouldn't be available until next month. However, Magdaleno was able to confirm the city had three murders in 2017, which is up from the two years before.

According to Magdaleno, in 2016, the department carried out a staffing study where it was determined there was a need for additional staff for the city size. The department has been adding new team members in increments since the conclusion of the study.

The police department added three patrol officers in the 2016-17 fiscal year. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the department is adding one full-time officer and one part-time officer to the team.

Magdaleno explained, additions can be across different units within the department, not just patrol officers. The department works closely with the City to learn more about forecasts and needs in safety services.

The City of Elk Grove is in the process of updating its General Plan, which maps out the community vision for the future. Nelson explained via email, the plan "addresses issues that impact the entire city, such as how land is used, where buildings are built, the locations of roads and parks, safety, noise, and more. All city plans, zoning, and private development must be consistent with the diagrams and policies in the General Plan."

City workers in Elk Grove are preparing for the population increase to come and looking ahead to the year 2040, according to Nelson.

While Elk Grove's crime rate hasn't shown any dramatic spikes over the last 10 years, the city is still preparing to shift its services to best protect and provide for more people.

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