Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by John Schreiber.

Violent crime in Los Angeles was up 14.3 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, city leaders said Monday.

The uptick was the first in at least eight years.

“We own that,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference with police Chief Charlie Beck.     The increase in violent crimes, they said, was driven by an increase in domestic violence cases, alcohol-fueled street assaults and a change in the way the department reports crime.

Violent crimes includes homicides, rape, aggravated assaults and robbery, all which increased in 2014.

Despite the increase in violent crimes, overall crime was down 1.6 percent, according to police figures.

There were 260 homicides last year, up 3.6 percent from 251 in 2013. Beck and Garcetti said that was still 46.8 percent less than the 489 homicides recorded in 2005.

Aggravated assaults increased 28.3 percent from 7,624 to 9,779.

Rapes rose 20.9 percent, with 924 cases in 2014 compared to 764 the previous year.

Robberies were up 0.5 percent, from 7,885 to 7,924.

Beck said the roughly 10,000-officer department was small compared to the population, but nevertheless “must be more effective.”

The mayor said the city was safe “but neither of us will ever rest until we are safer.”

Garcetti and Beck plan to bolster programs aimed at preventing domestic violence.

The mayor’s wife, Amy Elaine Wakeland, will lead an effort to expand the city’s domestic violence prevention program, DART, from 10 police stations to all 21.

The gang reduction and youth development, or GRYD, team will also focus some of its attention on domestic violence prevention, Garcetti said.

A $400,000 grant will go toward “smart” policing programs that make use of crime data to determine trends in the Southeast, Southwest, 77th Street and Newton patrol areas, which handle the greatest amount of street-level violence.

Garcetti said the good news in 2014 was that property crime dropped 4.6 percent. This resulted in overall crime coming in 1.6 percent lower than 2013.

This is the 12th consecutive year of overall crime reduction, Beck said.

Beck, who met last week with people upset about the fatal police shooting of a 25-year-old black man known to have mental health issues, said the department would increase its training of officers to improve their interactions with the mentally ill, as well as to ensure officers know how to use the “minimum amount of force to defuse” potentially violent encounters.

City News Service

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