Crime in the city dropped for the 10th consecutive year in 2012, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Monday.
The Van Nuys Divison is among the top performing police districts showing a decline in crime. It ranks 11th in the city in cutting violent crime (down by 8.5 percent), and 15th in limiting property crime (down 2.3 percent). [See the listings in the adjacent photo box.]
Beck and Villaraigosa attributed the 1.4 percent reduction in crime from 2011 to continued police hiring despite the city's large budget deficit. Villaraigosa said he would keep police hiring as a top priority in the city's next budget, his last as mayor. Villaraigosa will be termed out of office and replaced by a new mayor July 1.
"Cities in California that have stopped hiring (officers) or cut back on their police force have seen crime spikes. In L.A., we've seen crime continue its long downward trend," Villaraigosa said. "We continued hiring police officers even as we weathered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Van Nuys area Capt. Ivan Minsal said the slogan has helped reduce burglaries and thefts in the area. But, there was an increase in certain property crimes in the Van Nuys Division.
"We were able to reduce our property crimes in several areas, but we finished the year with increases in Burglaries, Burglary/Theft from Vehicles, and simple Thefts. For 2012, the Department goal was to finish the year with a -5% reduction in total Part I Crime, as well as focus more on quality of life issues in the various communities."
The captain urged locals to get involved in the Community Police Advisory Board (C-PAB) or the Mid-Valley Community Police Council. Contact Officer Mike Perez of the Community Relations Office at 818-374-9406, or Sergeant Tarek Ismail, Officer in Charge, Community Relations Office at 818-374-1996.
The mayor made expanding the police force a campaign promise when he won election in 2005. That year, sworn police officers numbered 9,284, according to department statistics. Today the force sits at 10,023 officers. Since 2005, the number of violent and property crimes dropped a total 27.2 percent, according to the department.
Villaraigosa said he hoped the next mayor would commit to expanding the police force further.
The number of homicides in the city remained below 300 for the third year in a row in 2012, down from 1,096 murders a year two decades ago.
The overall decrease in crime included a small increase in property crimes, which Beck attributed to a spike in thefts of electronic devices like cell phones and computers.
The officials said the drop in crime last year gave Los Angeles the lowest per capita crime rate of any city over 2 million people -- lower than Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and New York City.
Beck used the morning news conference, the last such announcement Beck and Villaraigosa will make together, to praise the mayor's focus on reducing gang crime. He cited a 47.5 percent reduction in gang crime since Villaraigosa took office and a record-low 152 gang homicides in 2012. "That is the lowest number of gang homicides in decades. Our level of gang crime, while still unacceptable, still requires much much work, has been changed forever," Beck said. "It wasn't very long ago that we were the homicide capital of the nation and the undisputed, undisputed source of gang misery worldwide. Because of this mayor, we've changed that. Now we're the source of the solution."
In Sherman Oaks, the two Senior Lead Officers gave their positive reports as well.
In North Sherman Oaks, Trent Berry said:
“Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle” remains to be our primary concern at this time. Most of the incidents involving vehicle break-ins are taking place during the late night hours, while people are unaware and or sleeping.
Most “Residential Burglaries” occur during the daytime hour. Let us remember to harden the target to keep criminals away from your neighborhoods. Remember our slogan to, “Lock it, Hide it, Keep it!”
District three (Sherman Oaks Area) has a Neighborhood Watch Block Leader’s Meeting on the last Thursday of the month. They are located at the Sunkist Building at 14130 Riverside Drive, at 6:30 p.m., on the last Thursday of the month.
In South Sherman Oaks, Senior Lead Officer Ron Carter said, "Residential Burglaries and Burglaries from Motor Vehicles continue to be a concern in Southern Sherman Oaks. As your Senior Lead Officers daily review all crime and arrest reports, we are still seeing unlocked garages, alarms not being turned on, valuable items being left in plain sight in parked vehicles, and many personal theft issues. As you set your cell-phones, I-phones, lap-tops and other personal items on counters, in shopping carts and other common areas, please do not leave them unattended. There are opportunists just waiting for us to become complacent with our property. Thanks to the hard work of our patrol Officers, Van Nuys Detectives, Specialized Units, and our Neighborhood Watch Groups in the community, our Violent Crime is at its lowest in many years with a 30% reduction year-to-date in Southern Sherman Oaks."
Although there has been a reduction in the number of Residential burglaries in Southern Sherman Oaks, the Auto-related crimes still continue and we are still focused on this activity.
If you are home during the daytime, especially if you live in the hills please occasionally walk outside and take a look around. Please make it look obvious that you are doing this, if anyone is checking out your neighborhood they might go elsewhere. Remind all your friends and families not to leave things visible in their vehicles. Your Los Angeles Police Department does not want you to be confrontational at any time. We would prefer that you are good “eyes and ears” for us and write down the license plate or take a picture, if possible. Please remember to close your garage doors and lock your side gates. Please do not make it easy for “opportunists” to take advantage of our homes.
The Sherman Oaks Senior Lead Officer contacts are:
South Sherman Oaks
Senior Lead Officer Ron Carter
Cell Phone 818-731-2565
North Sherman Oaks
Senior Lead Officer Trent Berry
Cellular (Field) Telephone 818-731-2563
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org