While overall crime is down in Long Beach, the city has seen a rise in homicides, human trafficking arrests and officer-involved shootings. Hetty Chang reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.
Violent crime rates in the city of Long Beach have dropped to their lowest levels in 41 years, while the number of homicides have jumped, Chief Jim McDonnell said during a year-end crime statistics review.
Violent crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults, dropped 13.5 percent in 2013, according to police.
There were 32 homicies in 2013, compared with 30 in 2012, the chief said.
The number of officer-involved shootings more than doubled to 15 in 2013 over the previous year, the chief said. Those stats exclude accidental discharge and shootings involving animals.
"In almost all of these instances, the suspects shot at -- or used a weapon either directed at an officer or a third-party victim," McDonnell said.
The chief was quick to point to the changing nature of the dangers his officers are up against.
During Thursday's news conference, one of his officers held up a semi-automatic rifle, similar to one officers recovered from a carjacking incident earlier in the week.
"This is an example of the type of fire power and level of violence our officers are being confronted with on a regular basis," he said.
The Long Beach Police Department has formed a use-of-force advisory committee to review officer involved shootings.
"In looking at each one we have had in the past year, we break it down to the 'nth degree," McDonnell said. "Looking at what we could have done different, what we could do different next time, what information were they given."
Long Beach police also reported a spike in human trafficking activity. Police made 15 human trafficking related arrests in 2013, compared with four in 2012.
"The more we look, the more we find, and we've seen gangs in particular become much more involved in the sex trafficking trade," McDonnell said. "What we are finding is because it's so lucrative and relatively low risk. We've seen a shift to some degree of trafficking narcotics to trafficking people."
Of the force's 803 officers, 19 are assigned to gang enforcement.