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.


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. 


Judge certifies class action against LA sheriff's department

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca conducts an inspection of Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles in this photo from December 2011.

A federal judge has given the go-ahead for a class action lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The suit alleges the department violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing wheel chairs, crutches, and other mobility devices - even when prescribed by doctors - to some jail inmates who need them.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Legal Center, and Winston & Strawn LLP, started in 2008. Since then, the sheriff's department has changed the way it treats inmates with disabilities. But, says Jessica Price, staff attorney with the ACLU, it hasn't done enough to accommodate inmates with mobility issues as they try to navigate jail life.

"Including access to programs and services," Price says. "And the failure to provide any sort of tracking system so that people who have orders for accommodations actually get those, including, for example, someone who has an order for a lower bunk."


Police Commission elects Andrea Sheridan Ordin as new president


Andres Aguila/KPCC

The Los Angeles Police Commission, which provides civilian oversight to the department, has a new president.

A month-and-a-half after returning to the Los Angeles Police Commission, Andrea Sheridan Ordin is the body's new president.

Ordin takes over from Richard Drooyan, who finished his one-year term as president Tuesday. It was also Commissioner Wong Yang’s last day on the commission, as she submitted her resignation to the mayor after serving for nearly three years.

Ordin spent five years on the police commission before taking a break and then coming back in June. She's the former county counsel for Los Angeles and a former U.S. Attorney for the region. She also served on the Christopher Commission, which made recommendations for reforming the LAPD after the Rodney King riots. 

John W. Mac will continue as vice president of the commission.


LAPD steps up patrols of Sikh temples after Wisconsin shooting


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD is stepping up patrols near Sikh temples in L.A.

The Los Angeles Police Department says it reacted "quickly" to the news of the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin by stepping up patrols near Los Angeles gurdwaras. 

According to a press release, LAPD also activated its counterterrorism network, opening communication lines with federal partners like the FBI.

"The LAPD maintained contact throughout the day to receive updated information to determine if there was a nexus to the Los Angeles Area Sikh community," stated the release.

Thus far, it appears there are no known threats to local Sikh temples. The move by LAPD is precautionary and to help local temple visitors feel safe.