The city’s crime rate will be the subject of a news conference to be held next week by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who took heat for neglecting to do so last year.
3.8% Increase In Violent Crime
Beck told the Board of Police Commissioners that the news conference would take place a week from Friday, but did not state a time or location. The mayor’s office confirmed the news conference would take place on Jan. 19, with logistical details to come.
LAPD data shows that through Dec. 16, the city experienced a 3.8 percent increase in violent crime compared to the same period in 2016, indicating the total numbers for 2017 will likely result in the city’s fourth straight year of rising violent crime when the statistics on the final few weeks of the year are released.
Homicides Down 6%
Despite the violent crime rise, homicides were down to 271 — a 6 percent decrease — and rapes were down 10.7 percent, while aggravated assaults and robberies rose 4.5 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. Property crime was up 1 percent, which would mark the third consecutive increase if it holds for the entire year.
“This past year marked an important moment in our drive to end gun violence as we reduced the number of homicides and shooting victims,” Garcetti said in a statement. “I thank Chief Beck and the LAPD for their continued work to make Los Angeles the safest city in America.”
No Crime Rate Conference Last Year
Garcetti weathered criticism last year during his re-election campaign from some opponents for not holding a news conference with Beck to discuss the yearly crime rate statistics, as had been his annual practice since becoming mayor.
The mayor’s office said at the time that the lack of a news conference was due to a scheduling conflict, but Garcetti’s top challenger, Mitchell Schwartz, accused the mayor of not wanting to draw attention to L.A.’s rising crime trends during an election year. The criticism did not stick and Garcetti was easily re-elected in March 2017 to a second term with 81 percent of the vote.
Accusations Against LAPD
Before the rising violent crime trend started in 2014, which was Garcetti’s first full term in office, the city had experienced 12 years of declines.
The planned news conference also comes in the wake of accusations brought against the police department and Beck by an LAPD captain who filed a legal claim in November, alleging violent crime statistics were doctored.
Capt. Lillian Carranza alleged the department was engaging in an “elaborate cover-up” to make violent crime rates appear lower than they really are.
Beck Denies Accusations
Beck strongly denied the accusation.
“If I’m cooking the books, I’m not doing a very good job, because we are up a little over 4 percent in violent crime,” he told reporters last fall. “If I wanted to cook the books, believe me, we would not be up in violent crime.”