The number of suspects killed by police in Los Angeles County has risen nearly 70 percent in 2011 over the previous year.
The Los Angeles Times reports Sunday that 54 people were killed by law enforcement in 2011 countywide. In about two-thirds of the cases, the person was armed with a gun, knife or other weapon. In 12 cases, the person was unarmed.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says the majority of shootings are legitimate responses to serious threats. He says police have become more adept at responding quickly to violent situations.
Fatal police shootings this year, however, have fallen back to 2010 levels.
The increase in police killings come at a time when murder rates have fallen to historic lows — 612 homicides were recorded countywide last year.