Los Angeles

Domestic Violence Drives LA Violent Crime Increase

City saw a more than 14 percent jump in violent crime, and plans to create community programs to help end domestic violence, which drove the spike.

Crime jumped significantly in Los Angeles last year, with a 14.3 percent increase in violent crime, driven largely by an increase in domestic violence, according to statistics discussed by the police chief and mayor Monday.

Despite the steep jump, both Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said there were some wins during the year, and discussed plans to target problem areas in 2015, including those domestic violence crimes.

"Talk about the good news, the bad news, to celebrate the good, to own the bad," Garcetti said.

Looking at the numbers, the chief said the city is still following a 12-year-straight path of a decline in crime per capita.

Part of that is because LA is getting bigger, but the chief and the mayor said this is still the safest the city has ever been.

Property crime, the most common crime in LA, is down almost 5 percent. Because this affects so many Angelenos, they see this decline as good.

But the chief also discussed the need for building trust in the community — something he says has been a charge from his office long before the national debate.

"We have to be a beacon for the rest of law enforcement on building community trust," Beck said. "Without trust, no small police department — and make no mistake, LAPD is extremely small given its task — can influence the nation’s second-largest city and make it safer."

Beck pointed to new methods of gathering data — including changing some misdemeanors to aggravated assaults — as well as a significant increase in domestic violence, as primary drivers for the increased numbers.

Among the violent crime numbers, homicides are up almost 4 percent, rape is up nearly 21 percent and aggravated assaults, which now include many assault cases, are up more than 28 percent.

For 2015, Beck the city will see strengthened training programs for LAPD officers and expanded community programs, including the Citywide Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative.

Survivors said that approach could work.

"I just wanted to get away from it. I was through with it," Carla Lopez, a domestic violence survivor, said.

Lopez, who now tells her story to others as a survivor of domestic violence, said for three years she put up with the abuse. Like many others, she never turned him in, she just left him.

"It just got really ugly and I said, 'You know, I shouldn't be going through this,'" she said.

Garcetti and Beck renewed a call Monday to end the cycle.

He said he planned to expand domestic abuse response teams from 10 to 21 so each LAPD division had one.

"This is a team effort," said Deputy Chief Beatrice Girmala, who oversees the LAPD's West Bureau. "The LAPD alone cannot do this job."

Anyone in a domestic abuse situation can call the city's free and confidential hotline at 800-585-6231.

For the complete crime statistics, see the LAPD report.

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