LOS ANGELES — Violent crime increased by nearly 16 percent during the first half of this year compared with the same period a year ago, authorities said July 22.
Statistics released by the Los Angeles Police Department also showed an increase in property crimes by 3.8 percent, and a 6.3 percent hike in overall crime in the past 12 months.
The number of homicides rose by 3.1 percent, from 130 to 134; and the number of shooting victims rose by 1.3 percent, from 537 to 544. The “year to date” figures covered the period from Jan. 1 through July 16.
The statistics were released at a news conference at police headquarters conducted by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Garcetti and Beck said the crime increase mirrors what is taking place around the country.
“This is not just a Los Angeles trend,” Garcetti said. “This is a national trend. America is struggling with crime.”
He suggested that the national crime increase could be tied to societal pressures.
“There’s no simple explanation, though we can point to some possible reasons,” he said, such as “the rise in homelessness, a crisis the city and the county have joined forces to resolve, a faltering mental health care system, too many people who are still shut out of jobs and opportunities and second chances.”
“These problems weren’t created over night and can’t be solved overnight,” he said. “But we are focused on them in a more aggressive manner than almost any city in America.”
The violent crime in Los Angeles is “highly skewed by what happens” in a few areas in South Los Angeles, with analysis by the department showing that “the vast majority of homicides and shootings were occurring in four of our 21 divisions,” Beck said.
“So at the mayor’s urging and with the full cooperation of my command staff we reconfigured the way the city of Los Angeles is policed,” Beck said.
“Unfortunately, what this does is we move resources, and the reality of having a police department that is maybe not big enough for the task is that’s the way we have to address things.”
He added that while the strategies appear to be yielding results, the department is unable to continue running a special command center in South Los Angeles “indefinitely,” as it “robs too many resources from too much of our city.”
“So as we get through the summer we will re-evaluate and try to return resources to a more even spread in the city,” he said.
The LAPD recently launched a public outreach campaign to appeal to members of the community who commit most of the crime in the city, and released the first of several videos featuring rap artist The Game, who called on viewers “to stop killing one another.”
Beck said that “What happens between young men in the city of Los Angeles drives violent crime and gang activity is the primary driver of that.”
The campaign, which will feature athletes and popular entertainers, is an attempt to appeal to those who may not usual listen to the traditional city and community leaders, Beck said.
Also released were the results of a survey of a sampling of about 2,000 Los Angeles residents that measured their “perceptions of safety and fear of crime” and other feelings about police-related topics.
Beck noted that it was important to measure “public trust … not just crime numbers.”
“We need the public’s help,” Beck said.
The survey covered three areas.
In the section titled “perceptions of safety and fear of crime,” 70 percent of residents “feel somewhat or very safe walking alone in their neighborhood at night”; and 57 percent of residents “agree or strongly agree that Los Angeles is safer compared to other large cities.
In the section titled “satisfaction with police services,” 73 percent of residents “somewhat or strongly approve of the job that LAPD is doing”; and 79 percent of residents “agree or strongly agree that officers treat residents in a fair and courteous manner.”
In the section “perceptions of trust in LAPD,” 69 percent of residents “agree or strongly agree that LAPD officers are honest and trustworthy”; and 84 percent of residents “agree or strongly agree that LAPD officers conduct themselves in a professional manner.”
“This is a revolution in the way [the LAPD] measures [its] progress,” Beck said.
Garcetti said the surveys would be conducted at least once a year, “preferably quarterly,” to help measure levels of public trust.