How LASER Focus Cut Homicides in Crime-Prone L.A. District


A high-crime area of Los Angeles recorded an all-time low of 16 homicides last year, compared with 36 the previous year, after a “smart policing” initiative of the LAPD assigned two patrol officers and a crime intelligence analyst to compile and distribute intelligence on chronic offenders and chronic crime locations, policing expert Craig Uchida told the National Forum on Criminal Justice in Chicago Tuesday. He said Operation LASER (Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration Program) achieved “significant and tangible reductions in violent crime” from its start in September 2011 through last year, with 19 percent fewer violent crimes in the area.

The LAPD is running LASER in its Newton Division and plans to expand it to four other police divisions, said Uchida, a visiting fellow at the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The three officers in LASER identified 125 chronic offenders in the program’s first year and added 65 last year. They helped other officers target these offenders and common crime locations, arresting nearly 70 percent of the first chronic offender group. Uchida said he was surprised at the clear success of LASER, which differed from a typical police tactic of a “massive, saturation approach” to a high-crime district.

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