Crime & Justice

Against the odds, crime down all over Los Angeles

A policeman takes down crime tape.
A policeman takes down crime tape.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Homicides and other major crimes declined in Los Angeles the city and the county last year, continuing a years-long trend despite a weak economy. If you follow L.A. news, expect to hear this refrain a lot today as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief Charlie Beck and Fire Chief Brian Cummings scheduled a morning news conference today no doubt to make a big deal out of the stats.

Here's what you need to know:

• The crime rate in Los Angeles dipped for the ninth year despite economic factors that traditionally have been thought to increase it (again, like a bad economy). The LAPD recorded 298 killings last year, on par with 2010's also historically low rate.

• Other major crimes, like robbery and auto theft, were down between 3 percent and 9 percent through Dec. 24 compared to the same period in 2010.

• Elsewhere in L.A. County, the L.A. Times says there were 283 homicides, down a whopping 12 percent from 2010.

• The rate of serious crimes overall through November was down 13.5 percent, and property-related offenses dropped about 2 percent. December, of course, was the month dozens of cars and carports were torched allegedly by this guy.

And, as if he heard us writing, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just tweeted this.

The question of why crime is declining just about everywhere has historically been hard to answer. The Christian Science Monitor went ahead and tried in this 2010 story on various theories.

Among the reasons cited, of course, is more and different policing. And, indeed, the Times drew this conclusion, too, and brought up another, more sobering statistic not reflected in the lower crime rates:

Efforts by the LAPD to tamp down crime last year were marked by a stark increase in the number of times officers fired their weapons. The 61 officer-involved shootings through Saturday represent a 65 percent rise over the same period the previous year and more than in any other recent year, department figures show. The LAPD's homicide count does not include the 25 people killed by officers in 2011.