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Los Angeles crime rates hit 50-year lows

January 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Officials say that in spite of budget cuts and an understaffed police force, L.A.'s crime rate reached a 50-year low.A year ago, with the economy spiraling downward and unemployment skyrocketing, many predicted that crime would rise in Los Angeles. However, statistics released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Police Department show that the crime rate has dropped to the lowest level in decades.

"Even though these are difficult times, and even though the economy is making families struggle and the job market is making people's futures less certain, that is not a reason to give up on this city," said LAPD Chief Charles Beck.

Officials are particularly pleased with the homicide numbers. There has been an 18-percent reduction since last year. Also, investigators are solving murder cases at an unprecedented rate, according to the LAPD.

"I'm proud to say that this year, with 69 fewer homicides, that's 314 homicides in the city, down from 381 the year before. The homicide rate is the lowest since 1967," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Officials credit effective policing for lower rates of violence in neighborhoods and a reduction in gang crime.

"The last time that the crime numbers were this good, William Parker was the chief of police, and I think that's an amazing statistic because I think that puts it in perspective to the people who live in the city of Los Angeles," said Beck.

"You look at those numbers, they boggle the mind. They reflect the leadership. They reflect the collaboration and the coordination," said Villaraigosa.

The mayor also said that Los Angeles is still the most under-policed big city in the country. The LAPD is up to 800 officers and on its way to 1,000 officers.