After 12 straight years of declining crime in Los Angeles, the city experienced an uptick in criminal acts in the first part of 2015, the mayor and police chief announced Wednesday.
Violent and property crimes — known as Part I crimes — were up 12.7 percent for the first half of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014. Violent crimes alone were up 20.6 percent.
“This is bad news. … Any uptick in crime is unacceptable,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a morning news conference.
One bright spot was a decrease in the number of homicides, including gang-related killings. An uptick in domestic violence was on particular concern, Garcetti said.
When Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck noticed the long trend of declining crime begin to reverse late last year, the city began a “comprehensive crime reduction strategy,” the mayor said. That includes a major increase in the amount of training officers must undergo, beginning this month, the chief said.
“2015 has been a very tough year for policing in American and policing in Los Angeles,” Beck said.
This summer, all officers who work in operations will be required to undergo “preservation of life training” that involves de-escalation of force and working with the mentally ill, as well as responding after a deadly force incident, Beck said.
The mayor and chief both cited Proposition 47 in connection with the increase in crime. The measure was approved by California voters in November 2014 and changed some nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and shoplifting from felonies to misdemeanors, in turn reducing sentences for those crimes.
None of the promised intervention programs set to be funded by savings in state incarceration costs have been put in place, Garcetti said.
The mayor said the figures don't indicate Los Angeles is turning into an unsafe city "overnight," but do require municipal leaders to "own" the trend. He called public safety his top priority.
The crime figures in Los Angeles still show a city much safer than the other four of the top five largest U.S. cities, both Beck and Garcetti said.
“We’re incredibly safe,” Garcetti said.
A Los Angeles Times analysis showed that the increase in crimes had slowed since late March. And Garcetti promised Angelenos would see progress.
The figures released Wednesday included the following changes between the mid-year point of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014:
- homicide down 6.7 percent;
- rape up 7.9 percent;
- robbery up 16.6 percent;
- aggravated assault up 26.3 percent;
- burglary up 15.8 percent;
- vehicle theft up 13.8 percent;
- gang-related crimes up 18.3 percent;
- total violent crimes up 20.6 percent;
- total property crimes up 10.9 percent; and
- number of shooting victims up 18.5 percent.
The increase in crimes was seen across all four operations bureaus in the city, with the biggest uptick in Part I crimes — 17.9 percent — in the Central Bureau.
Overall, crime was still significantly lower than in 2008, the statistics showed.