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L.A. Crime Is Improving...So We Need More Cops

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The debate over the real meaning of L.A.'s recent crime rates heats up, with Police Chief Bratton reporting significant year-to-year drops in the most serious of crimes--and insisting this means budget woes can't be an excuse to stop hiring new cops.

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From the L.A. Daily News report:

Homicide rates in Los Angeles plummeted by nearly one-third in the first four months of this year, the largest drop of any major U.S. city....The decline from 140 homicides during the first four months of 2008 to 97 through April of this year comes as the Los Angeles Police Department nears its recruiting goal of 10,000 sworn officers.

"What this really means is that cops count," Police Chief William Bratton said during a news conference. "The more cops we have, the more we can do."

The decline in Los Angeles' homicide rate was significantly better than any other major city. New York, where Bratton was police commissioner before moving to the West Coast, saw a drop of 20 percent, followed by Chicago, with 16 percent, and Houston, with 15 percent.....

The report issued Thursday also showed significant drops in citywide gang-related crimes from 2008 to 2009. They include homicide (down 30 percent); carjacking (down 28 percent) and rape (down 22 percent).....

"Though the critics may call for a change, though some may want us to stop our public safety effort in its tracks, it is absolutely critical that we not back down," the mayor said. "We refuse to quit and we reject the calls to scale back on our ambitions in the name of a little temporary budget relief. Our police hiring plan is not negotiable." ["L.A. Homicide Rates Drop Significantly," Daily News]

Patrick Range McDonald at the L.A. Weekly sees Villaraigosa and Bratton turning crime facts into political weapons:


Villaraigosa and Bratton....are never shy to go in front of the TV news cameras with crime statistics in hand and push forward whatever agenda that may be on their plate that day....Bratton unsurprisingly backed Villaraigosa's hard push to hire more cops, crediting a larger police force for the recent crime drop. He also made it clear that the city's politicians, such as Garcetti, must stay the course and not freeze police hiring.....

with [Jack] Weiss, who's running in a tough race against Carmen Trutanich [for city attorney], showing up at the sides of Bratton and Villaraigosa 11 days before Election Day; with the mayor refusing to budge from an old campaign promise despite extremely tight economic times; and with the chief, who has heartily endorsed Weiss, pulling out crime statistics to support his boss, Thursday's press conference was anything but a run-of-the-mill crime report.

Past City of Angles blogging on L.A. crime rate controversy.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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