A 64 percent increase in murders across Los Angeles’ huge San Fernando Valley this year appeared to signal a setback for the Los Angeles Police Department, which has made lowering homicides and serious crime its top priority, says the Los Angeles Times. Still, police commanders called the additional nine dead in a city with 500 homicides annually a fluke.
The more persistent policing problem remains property crime. Los Angeles Assistant Chief George Gascon has set a target of a 20 percent drop in serious crime – including burglary, car theft and larceny – in the Valley this year.
The goal can be achieved, Gascon said, as the LAPD allows divisions to use more refined and creative crime-fighting strategies. “Property and quality-of-life crimes define the Valley,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD officer. “But property crimes don’t get the publicity, and there’s been almost an acceptance of it.”
The size of the area – 220 square miles and 1.4 million people – presents unique challenges. Police must contend with repeat offenders like the burglary suspect arrested last month who is suspected in 45 residential break-ins.