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Stats Reveal 40-year Low in L.A. Crime Rate

Wave Newspapers, News Report , Alice Walton Posted: Jan 09, 2009

LOS ANGELES Crime in the city of Los Angeles continued to hit 40-year lows in 2008, a trend which Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and law enforcement officials credited to more police officers and interagency relationships.

There were 381 murders in 2008, 15 fewer than the previous year, and the lowest number since 1969 when there were 377 homicides. New York and Chicago, in contrast, saw their murder rates increase in 2008.

From the valley to Boyle Heights, from West L.A. to South L.A., violence subsided in our neighborhoods, Villaraigosa said. Gang crime continues to decline thanks to the remarkable work and the bravery of the men and women of the LAPD.

Of those 381 murders, 161 occurred between 6 p.m. and midnight, while 94 occurred on a Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Deputy Police Chief Charlie Beck said.

Summer, which police officials typically expect to be the most violent time of year, was relatively calm. The 20 murders in July were the fewest number for the month since 1966. August and September numbers also hit almost 40-year lows.

About two-thirds of the murders took place on a sidewalk or in the street, and 85 percent of killings were committed with a gun.

Most victims were killed by someone similar to them in age and ethnicity, Beck said.

These are consistent themes that weve seen over the past six years where, especially because about half of these homicides are gang-related, gangs tend to have the most territorial disputes with those most like them, Beck said.

There were fewer violent crimes than any other year since 1967 and the fewest number of property crimes since 1959.

There were a total of 125,166 violent and property crimes last year in Los Angeles at a time when the population was about 4 million. That is the lowest figure since 1961 when there were 120,671 crimes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Los Angeles had 2.4 million residents in 1960.

In 2008, there were 786 rapes, 13,354 robberies, 11,993 aggravated assaults, 19,402 burglaries, 22,268 car thefts; 29,870 property thefts from vehicles and 27,112 personal thefts.

Police Chief William Bratton said crime will continue to decline this year as more police officers are hired. When Bratton came on board six years ago, the LAPD had about 9,600 officers. Today, there are 9,854 officers.

With those resources, we will be able to keep this city safer, despite the recession, in spite of the concerns of potentially tens of thousands of individuals who may be released from our prison system, Bratton said.

We live, eat and breath reducing crime. We think about it all the time.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, U.S. Attorney Thomas OBrien and members of the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attended the Monday morning news conference to show the interagency partnerships, which they say has helped to reduce crime.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillos office filed the 65th injunction against a gang last week, something he called a milestone in fighting gang crime.

Gang-related homicides declined 24.6 percent in 2008, compared to the previous year. Aggravated assaults were down 15.3 percent, rapes were down 9.5 percent and robberies were down 2.2 percent, according to the LAPD.

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