Crime fell this year in areas patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including a 20% decline in homicides driven largely by fewer gang-related deaths.
Homicides decreased from 210 in 2016 to 167 through Dec. 26. Gang-related homicides made up more than half the total.
In areas with some of the worst violent crime — Compton, the Lynwood area and East L.A. — homicides were down by 46%, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at a news conference Thursday.
“Some of this we can take credit for by being proactive, by being out there, by working with community partners, engaging in intervention activity, working through the schools,” he said.
McDonnell also pointed to the department’s anti-gang unit, Operation Safe Streets, for its work tamping down flare-ups in gang activity.
The Sheriff’s Department runs the county jails and patrols the streets of unincorporated areas as well as cities such as Lakewood, Lancaster and West Hollywood. Violent and property crimes were down by nearly 5% in 2017 compared to the previous year, the department reported.
From 2007 to 2014, crime decreased by 26% in sheriff’s territory. However, in 2015, there was an uptick of 7%, followed by another 7% increase in 2016.
In 2017, by contrast, rape was down by nearly 5%, robbery by 2%, aggravated assault by 2%, burglary by 2%, theft by 6%, grand theft auto by nearly 5% and arson by 12%.
Compton recorded 39 homicides in 2016, compared with 21 through Nov. 30 of this year.
McDonnell said this year’s crime reduction was achieved in a challenging environment, pointing to criminal justice reforms such as Proposition 47 and AB 109 that were designed to reduce the prison and jail population.
He said the result has been more people on the streets who commit crimes to support their drug addictions. But, he added, there has been no corresponding increase in treatment programs.
Proponents of the measures say there is no evidence they have led to more crime.
In the city of Los Angeles, crime continued on an upward trajectory, with a 4% increase in violent crime and a 1% increase in property crime. Homicides, however, fell by 6%.
At Thursday’s news conference, sheriff’s officials also discussed preparations for the Rose Parade.
Because of the increased threat of terrorism, they rewrote their security plan, adding more deputies and Pasadena police officers for Monday’s event.
Paradegoers who camp out will also notice a big change. On New Year’s Eve, Colorado Boulevard will be closed to vehicle traffic along the parade route.
“You’ll see a much more secure environment,” said Cmdr. John Stedman, who heads the special operations division. “We’re trying to offset any attempt to do a vehicle ramming attack. Traffic used to flow up and back, and all the people were just sitting on the curb.”
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