Crime rates in Los Angeles rise 12.6 percent

- A 12.6 percent rise in the number of crimes from 2014 to 2015 in Los Angeles was driven by increases in gang-related and domestic violence crimes, Mayor Eric Garcetti and police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday.

Violent crime alone was up 20.2 percent last year, while the number of property crimes was up 10.7 percent, according to Los Angeles Police Department statistics. The upticks followed a 12-year trend of declining crime in the city.

Among the violent crime categories, the homicide rate grew by 8.8 percent, from 260 people killed in 2014 to 283 in 2015. Nearly 60 percent of those 2015 homicides -- 165 -- were deemed to be gang-related.

The 13,569 aggravated assaults logged in 2015 was a 27.8 percent jump over the 10,615 such crimes recorded during the previous year. The number of reported rape rose 9.1 percent to 1,649, according LAPD statistics.

The lions share of property crime in 2015, about 70 percent, was auto-related, and included thefts of vehicles and break-ins. Car models from the 1990's were especially prone to theft, with 40 percent of the 2,400 vehicles
stolen in 2015 from that decade, according to the statistics.

LAPD officials noted that the city is still safer than 50 years ago, with the per-capita crime rate lower than in 1953. The overall crime rate in 2015 was also 21.8 percent lower than a decade ago, for example.

Compared with 1992. when there were 1,094 people murdered, the number of people killed in a city of 4 million people has held at less than 300 for the past six years, officials said.

Garcetti said that whether crime is up or down, "the men and women of this department are as engaged as they ever have been'' with helping those who are victims of crimes.

Beck said that while he feels "this is still a great and safe city,'' there are "a number of things we need to work on.''

He said he was concerned about gang crime, which went up 14.6 percent in 2015, marking the first increase in eight years. "Gang crime is what truly steals the youth of Los Angeles'' and "makes some people in some of our communities unsafe,'' he said.

Beck said the police department is focused on finding a solution and partnering with the community, vowing that "we will make a difference.'' He added that "the homicides that are the most difficult to solve ...gang homicides are by far the most difficult to obtain witnesses for.''

"And we understand why, but we also know the solution,'' the chief said. "The solution is communities that work together, communities that stand together, communities that work to save their children. We'll continue to
do that, we'll continue to push forward.

"Far too many of our homicides involve youth ... far too many of our homicides involve primarily young men of color,'' Beck added. "We need to make this a safe city, but we can only do that together.''

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