Crime in the city of Los Angeles dropped for the 10th consecutive year in 2012, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announced Monday.
They attributed the 1.4-percent reduction in crime from 2011 to continued police hiring despite the city's large budget deficit. Villaraigosa said he would keep police hiring as a top priority in the city's next budget, his last as mayor. Villaraigosa will be termed out of office and replaced by a new mayor July 1.
"Cities in California that have stopped hiring [officers] or cut back on their police force have seen crime spikes," Villaraigosa said. "In L.A., we've seen crime continue its long downward trend—we continued hiring police officers even as we weathered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.''
The mayor made expanding the police force a campaign promise when he won the election in 2005. That year, sworn police officers numbered 9,284, according to department statistics. Today, the force stands at 10,023 officers. Since 2005, the number of violent and property crimes has dropped a total of 27.2 percent, according to the department.
Villaraigosa said he hoped the next mayor would commit to expanding the police force further.
'Homicide Capital' No More
The number of homicides in the city remained below 300 for the third year in a row in 2012, down from 1,096 murders a year two decades ago.
The overall decrease in crime included a small increase in property crimes, which Beck attributed to a spike in thefts of electronic devices such as cell phones and computers.
The officials said the drop in crime last year gave Los Angeles the lowest per capita crime rate of any city over 2 million people—lower than Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and New York City.
Beck used the morning news conference, the last such announcement Beck and Villaraigosa will make together, to praise the mayor's focus on reducing gang crime. He cited a 47.5-percent reduction in gang crime since Villaraigosa took office and a record-low 152 gang homicides in 2012.
"That is the lowest number of gang homicides in decades," Beck said. "Our level of gang crime, while still unacceptable, still requires much much work, has been changed forever. It wasn't very long ago that we were the homicide capital of the nation and the undisputed source of gang misery worldwide. Because of this mayor, we've changed that. Now we're the source of the solution.''
Despite the reduction in crime across the city, crime stats were mixed for Northeast Division, which was one of only four divisions in the city where crime increased.
In the area of violent crime, the 12 homicides reported in 2012 were equal to the previous year. As the number recorded rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults all increased slightly from the previous year from 23 to 26, 315 to 318 and 309 to 315 respectively.
Violent Crimes2012 2011 Homicide 12 12 Rape 26 23 Robbery 318 315 Aggravated Assault 315 309
Property Crimes also increased slightly in 2012 compared to the previous year. Aside from burlaries, which decreased from 713 in 2011 to 668 in 2012, the number of Grand Theft Autos increased from 944 in 2011 to 995 in 2012; Thefts from Vehicles increased from 1449 in 2011 to 1486 in 2012; and Personal/Other Thefts rose from 1240 in 2011 to 1267 in 2012.
Property Crimes 2012 2011 2010 Burglary 668 713 773 GTA 995 944 906 Theft From Vehicle 1486 1449 1697 Personal/Other Theft 1267 1240 1266
Despite the minor increases from 2011 to 2012, Northeast Los Angeles still appears to be following a trend that is positive overall.
Although homicides in the Northeast area increased by 50 percent between 2010 and 2012, the number of reported rapes is down, and robberies and aggravated assaults both decreased significantly.
Violent Crimes2012 2010 Homicide 12 8 Rape 26 30 Robbery 318 435 Aggravated Assault 315 373
The same trends could be seen for property crimes, where despite a marked increase in the number of stolen vehicles, thefts and burglaries looked to be on a downward trend.
Property Crimes 2012 2010 Burglary 668 773 GTA 995 906 Theft From Vehicle 1486 1697 Personal/Other Theft 1267 1266