Crime & Justice

As crime rises, LAPD chief promises to keep extra cops in South LA

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addresses the media at Police Headquarters in Los Angeles, California on October 20, 2014.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addresses the media at Police Headquarters in Los Angeles, California on October 20, 2014.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Friday he intends to continue a program that’s sent hundreds of extra officers to the four most violent police divisions in the city – all clustered in South LA—at least through the end of the summer. 

“In the first quarter of this year, we saw shocking increases in the apex of violent crime, which is homicides and victim’s shot,” Beck told reporters gathered at police headquarters. At one point in February, homicides were tracking at rates 60 percent higher than the year before. 

After opening a new Community Safety Operations Center (CSOC) and flooding the Newton, Southeast, Southwest, and 77th police divisions with officers from the LAPD’s elite Metropolitan Division, the murder rate fell.  At the mid-year point, there were 134 homicides, about the same as last year's number at that time, 130. Shooting victims in South L.A. were down 17 percent. 

“We reconfigured the way the city of Los Angeles is policed,” Beck said. “And we’ve had good results.”

But, the chief acknowledged, the extra patrols must leave South L.A. at some point. 

“We cannot maintain the CSOC model indefinitely,” he said. “It robs too many resources from too much of our city.”

Beck said he would re-evaluate the program at the end of summer and “return resources to a more even spread throughout the city.”

Keeping the officers in high-crime areas through summer was a particular priority, Beck said, since August experienced 39 murders last year. 

The chief’s comments came as he presented the mid-year crime statistics.

Total violent crime in Los Angeles is up 16.3 percent so far this year, compared to the same time last year. The increase is driven primary by aggravated assaults (up 20.1 percent) and robberies (up 16.2 percent).

Property crimes are up 4.1 percent, driven mostly by a 18.9 percent increase in motor vehicle thefts.

Beck said the numbers mirror statistics from across the country.

“America is struggling with crime,” he said.

Asked if he agreed with Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s bleak assessment of crime in the country laid out in his speech to the GOP convention Thursday night, Beck said he did not watch the address.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was “disheartened” by the rising homicide rate earlier this year, but now feels “the trend is absolutely headed in the right direction.”

Garcetti also said he did not watch Trump’s speech.

The mayor noted crime remains at historic lows in the city.

The LAPD also released the results of a survey of how people feel about public safety and the department:

The survey was conducted by Justice and Security Strategies. The firm surveyed 2,004 adults by telephone in late February and early March in English and Spanish. The margin of error was plus or minus two percentage points.

Beck said the numbers would be a benchmark to measure community perceptions of the LAPD. He said the survey, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, would be conducted annually.

“You can’t just have the most upset person be your standard," said Garcetti, "or the person who praises you the most."

Protesters affiliated with Black Lives Matter, meanwhile, remain camped outside City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, protesting what they say is a lack of transparency in L.A.'s police department. They have said they won't leave until Beck resigns.