Southern California breaking news and trends

Murders, serious crime drop significantly 2005-'12; LAPD credits more cops


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LA officials credit a larger police force as the predominant reason for L.A.'s crime drop.

Los Angeles recorded 298 murders in 2012, down a significant 39 percent from the 488 logged in 2005 , the LAPD and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reported Monday. 

In general, serious crimes such as homicide, rape, burglary and theft were also down significantly: to 104,159 so-called Part I crimes  in 2012, compared with 128,759 in 2005, a 19 percent decline.

During the same period, Los Angeles went from 9,284 police officers in 2005 to 10,023 last year, a big reason for the drop in crime, Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

"Cities in California that have stopped hiring or are cutting back on their police force have seen crime spikes," Villagairosa said. L.A. — once the national murder capital — has some of the lowest violent crime rates in the country, compared to other population hubs (and the lowest among cities over 2 million), he said.


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation gets a new leader

Jeffrey Beard

Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections

Jeffrey Beard was nominated by Governor Brown to take over as Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Governor Jerry Brown nominated a new Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday. 

Jeffrey Beard led Pennsylvania’s prison system for nine years, after working his way up the ranks from correctional officer. Beard is familiar with California’s prisons, having served on a 2007 panel that examined the effectiveness of prison and parole programs for adult offenders in the state. He also consulted for CDCR on the litigation that resulted in a court-ordered overcrowding reduction in California’s prisons.

Beard replaces Matt Cate, who left the department in November to lead the California State Association of Counties.

In a statement, Brown said, "in the face of a plethora of Federal court decisions and the bold realignment enacted by the Legislature, Jeff Beard has arrived at the right time to take the next steps in returning California’s parole and correctional institutions to their former luster.”


Report on wasteful DHS spending targets Oxnard-Thousand Oaks

Office of Senator Tom Coburn

An armored vehicle purchased with anti-terrorism grant funds in Fargo, ND.

The Oxnard-Thousand Oaks area saw a near-historic drop in crime in the past few years, but that didn't stop the region from seeking millions in anti-terrorism funds, according to a new report from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

The report highlights several areas in the U.S.  Coburn said have played up their threat levels to win lucrative grants.

"Two percent of the 3,143 counties in the U.S. were identified as hot spots for terror-related threats with only Manhattan and Los Angeles remaining as hot spots of activity across each decade," according to the report. Yet the Department of Homeland Security has identified 62 areas to receive grants through its Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). Among them, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, which has received over $5 million to fight local terrorism threats.


LAPD still trying to attract more women officers


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD has been trying to get to 1/5 female for decades.

For 30 years the LAPD has been trying to achieve the elusive goal of 20% women in its sworn officer ranks.

Back then, the force was less than 2 percent female; many considered it a fairly hostile workplace environment for women. After a series of lawsuits the LAPD agreed to start actively recruiting women and set the 20% goal.

Rcently, the department's gotten close—painfully close—without hitting the mark. As of Tuesday, Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy reported to the L.A. Police Commission that 19.2% of sworn personnel are female, meaning the department has now hovered close to 19% for years without reaching its goal. 

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck pointed out that nationally, the average is more in the 12-15% range, and departments with a higher ratio of women tend to play a heavy custody role, like sheriff's departments. 


Martin Hoshino to take over as acting secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Martin Hoshino


Martin Hoshino takes over CDCR on November 12.

On Monday morning, Martin Hoshino will assume temporary control of one of the world's largest prison systems, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

According to a bio released by CDCR, Hoshino started his career in the California State Controller's Office before moving into the corrections world. Most recently, Hoshino served as Undersecretary for Administration and Offender Services.

Hoshino takes over CDCR from Matthew Cate, and like Cate, he also spent time in the Inspector General's office, a prison oversight agency. 

Hoshino is moving in as the prison system's medical care system slowly emerges from federal receivership.

But the bigger job facing Hosino immediately is realignment, the process adopted more than a year ago that transfers low-level, non-violent offenders from the state prison system into county custody.