Two years ago, Los Angeles police were alarmed by a particularly brutal August, the deadliest the city had seen in years. Hoping to slow the bloodshed, top police officials retooled their crime-fighting strategies. They sent extra officers to the neighborhoods hit hardest, looking for guns and focusing on gang-inspired violence, the Los Angeles Times reports. This summer, those changes finally paid off. L.A. saw a total of 59 homicides in June, July and August, Police Chief Charlie Beck said, far lower than the number of killings typical for the three-month period. Other than 2014, when the city also recorded 59 homicides, it was the fewest killings in a single summer since 1966.
In recent years, the city’s summer homicide tally typically was in the 70s or 80s. A decade ago, there were 116 homicides during the summer. Last year, there were 82. Beck said that 59 homicides are “far too many.” He added, “that’s a pretty significant accomplishment for this city to have a summer that was that safe.” The drop in killings was welcome news for the police department, which has been nagged by crime numbers that began creeping upward in 2014. Though the department worked steadily to reverse the trend — most notably by adding more officers to the elite Metropolitan Division and creating a command center to more quickly respond to violence in South L.A. — the numbers were slow to move. This year, overall serious crime is up about 1.2 percent compared with the same period last year.