The Los Angeles Police Department had extra boots on the street last year — more than 300,000 patrol hours of them. It’s a strategy that city officials say helped drive down violent crime. Homicides dropped from 260 in 2018 to 253 in 2019, the 10th consecutive year the city saw fewer than 300 homicides, the Los Angeles Times reports. “We needed to increase the instances that officers and the community could work together,” said Chief Michel Moore. Los Angeles is much safer than in previous decades. In 1992, almost 90,000 violent crimes were reported. Homicides rose to almost 1,100 that year before dropping sharply. The number of homicides began to grow in 2014, with 2017 marking the first decrease.
Last year, the LAPD added 200 personnel to the field, said Moore, who explained that the increase has proved essential despite coming at the cost of other resources. About 1.3 million hours of patrol have been added every year since 2016. Technological advancements have also freed officers to spend more time in communities and less time on paperwork. “We all know the most important number is the number of hours that police are spending patrolling and protecting, not filling out reports,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. Criminologist Emily Owens of UC Irvine said there is scientific evidence suggesting that crime falls when police departments place officers in high crime areas. There needs to be more research into whether reallocating officers’ work hours from filling out paperwork to patrolling the street substantially reduces crime. In other crime categories lat year, gang crime dipped 6.3 percent, and property crime decreased 7.4 percent. Officer-involved shootings dropped from 33 in 2018 to 26 in 2019, a historic low.