In Spite of Population Increase, City of L.A. Safer Now Than It Has Been In Decades

February 8, 2002

Los Angeles – Over the past several months, much has been written and said regarding the recent increases in crime. Unfortunately, only a handful of individuals and entities have chosen to put these increases in perspective.
For years, criminologists and other experts have consistently represented that in order to gain a true crime picture of a community, crime must be examined over the long term, taking into account other factors such as population growth and economic developments. It is important that we not view a community’s safety level based on the unreasonable and headlining "right here and now" phenomenon. Rather, crime must be viewed over a protracted period of years and when that is done, it is clear that the people of the City of Los Angeles are much safer now than they have been in decades.
Specifically, as it pertains to homicides, the fact is that homicide numbers in each of the last five years [1997 – 2001] are the lowest they have been in 24 years [this dates back to the year 1977]. This is the case in spite of a population increase of over one million people in the City of Los Angeles (Enclosure A). Part I crimes, in each of the last five years, are the lowest they have been in 30 years (Enclosure B). The 30-year average for violent crimes is 55,680. Other than a high of 56,523 in the year 1997, violent crime figures in each of the succeeding four years [1998-2001] have been well below the 30-year average (Enclosure C). In fact, one would have to go back to the year 1984 to find a year where violent crimes figures were lower than they have been in each of the aforementioned four years.
However one slices it, the fact remains that the people of Los Angeles are much safer today than they have been in decades. This, notwithstanding the population increases. Los Angeles Chief of Police Bernard C. Parks explained, "No, our work is not yet completed. Our commitment to this community continues to be that we will do all we can to make Los Angeles the safest "big city" in the nation. Our mission is to work in partnership with all the diverse residential and business communities of the City to enhance public safety and reduce the fear and incidence of crime. We will do so with honor and integrity while respecting the rights of others."
This advisory was prepared by Lieutenant Horace Frank, Officer in Charge, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.