Southern California breaking news and trends

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

LAPD

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.

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LAPD still trying to attract more women officers

LAPD

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. 

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Police Commission elects Andrea Sheridan Ordin as new president

LAPD

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.

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Fullerton considers dismantling police department and letting others police their streets

Joshua Sudock, Orange County Register, Pool photo

Fullerton may disband its police department. The department's been under fire since the death of Kelly Thomas. Here, Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father, speaks to the media after a judge ordered two Fullerton police officers to stand trial in the death of his son.

The Fullerton City Council Tuesday will decide whether to authorize a study looking into dismantling the city's police department. The study would look into options like consolidating policing in North Orange County and contracting with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Fullerton police came under heavy criticism after the beating death of Kelly Thomas last year. Three of the six officers involved in Thomas' death have since left the force.

But the move seems most motivated by finances: the 144-person department costs about $37 million a year to operate. More and more small cities are looking at their public safety services as financial liabilities, especially pension costs.

Another cost consideration with police departments is liability claims from car crashes, injuries, wrongful deaths and employment suits. Fullerton's liability costs were not immediately available.

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LAPD steps up patrols of Sikh temples after Wisconsin shooting

LAPD

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.

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