Even as they expressed confidence that 2009 could bring further declines in crime numbers, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton say that the police department’s success in the coming year is tied to the city’s financial picture, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bratton, who has never been shy about promising drops in crime, stopped short of his tradition of setting a crime reduction target for the year, saying only that he was “very comfortable” that crime would continue to fall in 2009.
Overall violent and property crime in Los Angeles fell 2.5% in 2008 compared with the year before. The numbers continued the unbroken run of year-over-year declines since 2002, the year Bratton took the helm. Bucking the trend in some other major urban centers, the number of homicides in Los Angeles continued to fall to levels not seen since the 1960s. Last year, 381 people were killed — 15 fewer than in 2007 and a nearly 40 percent drop from when Bratton took over. As in past years, property crimes, including burglary and car theft, were down less dramatically than violent crimes. Police fell short of meeting the goal they set at the start of last year to reduce crime by 5 percent.