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LA mayor touts major crime drops
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Crime is down in every category in Los Angeles and homicides are at their second lowest in more than 50 years, the city’s mayor and police chief announced Monday.

At 259, homicides in the nation’s second-largest city fell 8.2 percent last year, while rapes were down 12.4 percent, gang crimes decreased by 8 percent and property crime went down 2 percent, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference .

“It’s pretty remarkable,” said Garcetti, a Democrat who is considering running for president.

“This is one of the safest times to live in Los Angeles in all of our history,” said Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore, who became chief last year.

In 1992, when murders peaked in Los Angeles during the crack cocaine epidemic, there were 1,092 homicides.

Garcetti and Moore both compared last year’s statistics to those from the 1990s. Violent crime is down 67 percent and property crime is down 60 percent since 1992, Garcetti said.

Moore also pointed out that the 1,008 shooting victims in 2018 were 48 fewer than 2017, 169 fewer from 2016 and 900 fewer than in 2007.

They credited increased diversity of officers, more street patrols and gang intervention for the drops.

Garcetti said the drop is noteworthy considering Los Angeles’ growing population. He also pointed out that some of the other largest cities in the U.S. saw more homicides than Los Angeles in 2018.

New York had 289, Chicago had more than 530, Houston had at least 279, and Philadelphia more than 350.

Moore emphasized the continued need for gang intervention, pointing out that 50 percent of all homicides in Los Angeles are gang-related.

He also said too many homeless people, nearly 3,000, were victims of crimes in 2018, calling it “the humanitarian crisis of our generation.”

Garcetti and Moore also addressed a report by The Los Angeles Times that found LAPD’s elite Metropolitan division disproportionately stopped black drivers.

Garcetti said the report is “deeply concerning” and he’s asked for a further review of its findings.

“I want us to look carefully about how we’re policing Los Angeles,” Garcetti said, adding that audits of the department’s gang enforcement and metro divisions are underway.

“We’ll get information instead of having speculation,” he said.

Moore said the department doesn’t tolerate discrimination and the report renews an important question about just how the department’s enforcement strategies impact the community.

But he said he’s concerned the report was too simplistic and that the incidence of violent crime “does not strictly follow the proportionality of the ethnic makeup of the community.”

“Neither should our enforcement strategies,” he said, adding that the department is focused on de-escalation and outreach. “Critically important is that the communities of South Los Angeles and particularly the African American community have confidence that this department’s efforts are genuine and intended to save lives.”

He said the department has had 11 fewer officer-involved shootings in 2018 and for the first time began regularly releasing body camera footage of such incidents.

Garcetti announced the drop in crime on the heels of another success: He helped broker an end to a six-day teachers’ strike last week.