Crime was down for the 10th consecutive year in Los Angeles as the mayor and the police chief touted the work of 10,000 LAPD officers and a close collaboration with concerned residents in neighborhoods that have been historically hit hard with high crime rates.
Overall crime dropped 1.5 percent in LA, police statistics show. Violent crimes were down 8.2 percent, a figure that was the lowest per capita rate of among the country’s biggest cities -- Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
Police recorded 298 homicides in 2012, which was one more homicide than in 2011. Just over half of those were gang related, officials said. It was the third year in a row that the city recorded fewer than 300 homicides, said LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“This is an extraordinary achievement that is a testament to the tireless work of law enforcement in conjunction with citizens who care about their community and quality of life,” said Villaraigosa at a year-end crime statistics press conference.
Gang crime dropped 10.5 percent and three of the regional bureaus across the city saw drops in property crimes and violent crimes, the mayor said. Villaraigosa, who is termed out this year, said that in the South LA neighborhood of Watts, long home to violence, crime dropped nearly 50 percent since he took office in 2005.
Beck said there were 152 gang homicides in 2012 and that while the level of gang crime is still unacceptable, he said “it wasn’t very long ago that we were the homicide capital of the nation and the undisputed … source of gang misery worldwide.
“Now we’re the source of the solution,” he said.
Beck said that as property crime has been going up significantly across the country, LA police recorded a .02 percent increase or 160 more than in 2011. He credited the jump to a spike in cellphone thefts in 2012.
Beck said he hopes to expand a program that uses data to analyze spikes in crime to deploy resources in a so-called “predictive policing” effort that was the subject of a pilot program last year in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
He said that crime in Watts and the housing project Ramona Gardens in the East LA community of Boyle Heights have seen big drops in crime and credits a community safety partnership which assigns officers long term to the areas to develop a rapport with residents to help deter crime.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which patrols unincorporated communities and 42 cities in the County, reported on Monday that homicides dropped nearly 4 percent while violent crimes increased nearly 3 percent and property crimes increased by just over 4 percent.