LA sees 10 percent drop in violent crime in 2009

AP News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2009 12:50 PM

Violent crime in Los Angeles has dropped about 10 percent from last year, and the surrounding area saw similar declines despite double-digit unemployment in California coupled with the bad economy, authorities said Thursday.

It's the seventh consecutive year that violent crimes such as homicide, rape and robbery dropped in the city of Los Angeles, police said. In Los Angeles County, the Sheriff's Department reports violent crime is down more than 11 percent from last year.

With a week left in the year, police and sheriff's officials have investigated about 500 killings through Sunday compared with more than 1,500 in 1992.

"It is a different world," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "There was a time when it was the opposite of today _ when it seemed there was no limit on the potential for things to get worse and worse. The whole outlook has shifted now."

Other areas such as San Diego and Orange County also reported drops. However, crime remained virtually flat in Long Beach, where homicides climbed from 30 in 2008 to 35 this year.

Southern California's drop in crime may be due in part to the example set by the LAPD's long-running success under Chief William Bratton, who recently resigned, said George Kelling, a leading criminal justice scholar at Rutgers University.

"Where police chiefs might have been perfectly willing to say, 'It's the economy or something else and there's nothing we can do about it,' their bosses _ mayors and city councils _ now know they can and should expect reductions in crime," Kelling said.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com