LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Murders and other serious crimes in Los Angeles dropped to more than 40-year lows in 2013, Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Monday, crediting a citywide focus on prevention and intervention.
Los Angeles, the second-biggest U.S. city with a population of nearly 3.9 million, recorded 251 murders in 2013, down from 299 the year before, according to the mayor's office. Rapes dropped to 639 from 936, and total violent crime was down 12 percent over the same period.
"I'm proud of these statistics, but it's what's behind the numbers that's truly important -- the streets that have been reclaimed, the parks that are once again open to our kids, the lives that have been saved," said Garcetti, who took office July 1.
Homicides sank to the lowest number since 1966 and "Part 1" crimes -- a category that includes crimes considered the most serious -- fell to the lowest number since 1956, Garcetti said.
Homicide rates have largely declined across the nation over the past decade, falling in 2011 to their lowest level since 1963, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics.
As of December 29, New York had recorded a record low of 333 murders for 2013, while Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, had recorded 412.
Garcetti spokeswoman Vicki Curry said Los Angeles has now marked 11 consecutive years of declines, credited to an increase in police officers as well as community-wide efforts.
Curry said Garcetti was committed to maintaining a force of 10,000 police officers. Currently the city has slightly less than that number, she said.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Adler)