Serious crimes are down in Hesperia, and overall arrests are up, thanks to more deputies being on the street, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Statistics released by the sheriff's department's Hesperia station show Part I crimes -- murders, rapes, robberies (thefts with the use or threat of force), larcenies (thefts without force), assault and grand theft auto -- are down on a monthly basis this year, as compared to the same months in 2007 and 2008.

"We have more people on the street, because the city council has given us more help," station spokeswoman Roxanne Walker said Friday. "And because there are more deputies on the street, they have more time to be proactive."

"The city council, budget issues being as they are, has still been very supportive," Hesperia station Captain Lance Clark said Friday. "Over the last two prior years, we've added seven deputies and one sergeant. Adding those staffing levels is huge. ... At any given shift, at any given time, there's going to be at least one additional deputy patrolling the city of Hesperia" compared to previous years.

"We are still experiencing a slight population growth in the area and so I can't really attribute it to a decline in population," Clark said.

In June 2009, there were 206 Part I crimes reported, as compared to 224 the same month in both 2008 and 2007. That's part of a trend that's continued since January, when there were 206 Part I crimes reported, compared to 234 in 2008. March had the steepest decline, with 182 Part I crimes reported, compared to 260 in March 2008 and 206 in 2007.

But even though serious crimes are down, arrests are up overall: 221 arrests were made in June, compared to 172 the year before.

"There's spikes here and there in various categories, but there's a pretty marked downward trend from the last couple of years."

Among those spikes are more arrests in some months of 2008 than in 2007. That's because Clark, who was transferred from the Barstow Sheriff's Station to Hesperia in June 2007, was still getting the lay of the land, he said.

"When I got here, I was new to Hesperia as a command, and my lieutenant was new to Hesperia as command. So we took a look at Hesperia with fresh eyes," he said. The pair changed a number of ways the station had been doing business, including such seemingly mundane things as changing how many people were working at different times of the day. Even such simple changes have had "profound" results, according to Clark.

"Probably the most visible thing is that the deputies themselves are just going out and meeting the challenge out it in the field. They're engaged, they're active, they're looking for stuff," Clark said. "They're out, shaking the bushes, so to speak. ... They're able to intervene before an event occurs."

But while the number of serious crimes may be down, the Hesperia station is as busy as ever, with calls for service holding more or less steady, with 7,076 calls to the station in June 2009, compared to 6,848 in 2008 and 7,575 in 2007.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.