Pockets of violence blight the Los Angeles landscape, testing the resources of the Police Department and the resolve of residents from the Central City and South-Central to Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.
A year’s worth of violent crime statistics from every neighborhood in the city--the LAPD keeps track of crime by reporting district, small chunks of territory that parallel census tracts--reveal that no area is untouched. But the same statistics demonstrate that although crime citywide dropped last year, some communities remain locked in its grip.
Take the strip of Los Angeles that runs along the Harbor Freeway from Florence Avenue to Manchester Avenue. In 1993, those 40-odd square blocks were among the city’s leaders in terms of robberies, rapes and murders.
That comes as no surprise to anyone who knows those neighborhoods well. Merchants, residents and police have struggled against drugs, prostitution, robberies, assaults and killings for too long. All hope for progress. Many worry that it will take years.
As revealing as the statistics can be, they also can mislead. In 1993, the city’s murder capital was a small community in the LAPD’s Rampart area that saw 15 homicides. Of those, however, 10 occurred on a single day, when an arson fire raged through an apartment building. Increased police presence would not likely have had much effect on stopping that crime.
Other kinds of crimes are more commonplace, and police say they tell more about the character of a community. In a small Watts community that is home to the Nickerson Gardens housing project, barely a day went by without an aggravated assault. No other community in Los Angeles had more.
Violence in the Valley generally is less acute than in south Los Angeles, but corridors of crime parallel Van Nuys and Sepulveda boulevards as they cut through the northern reaches of the city. One Van Nuys community, just east of Sepulveda Boulevard and south of the Southern Pacific Railroad line, had more reported rapes--14--than any other neighborhood in Los Angeles. Police in the Valley also say they are battling a rising tide of murders.
Some of the city’s Westside neighborhoods report relatively few violent crimes. But others, such as a 20-square-block area in Hollywood, have become a magnet for violence. That community, held in the grip of a local gang, tallied the West Bureau’s highest numbers for aggravated assault, robbery and rape in 1993. Residents and shopkeepers are fighting back, painting out graffiti and working with the Police Department. But the effort is large, the victories often temporary.
The Times, using LAPD crime statistics, identified the neighborhoods in each section of the city that last year posted the highest number of violent crimes in four categories: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
The Police Department, drawing largely on the same figures, is expected this week to release its own station-by-station analysis of the city’s most violent trouble spots.
Unedited versions of the LAPD plans for all of its 18 stations, reviewed by The Times last week, reveal a host of strategies that range from increased patrols to using officers with better language skills to adding detectives, vice officers and the like. Many also stress the importance of the LAPD working more closely with the communities it is charged to protect and serve. That is the underlying notion of community-based policing, which the Police Department has embraced and is attempting to implement across Los Angeles.
It is an undertaking that many residents in the four corners of Los Angeles applaud, even if some worry that it may be too little, too late.
“This neighborhood is a sad place,” said Arthur Lee Boone, a pastor whose Free Spirit Church of God in Christ is in one of the city’s toughest South-Central communities. “If we don’t get help, places like this are going to die.”
’ The ones who are sick, who are addicted . . . they think you got a nickel on you, they’ll kill you. They’ll kill me. ' - Arthur Lee Boone, pastor of Free Speech Church of God in Christ
’ He was standing over me with the gun and I don’t know if God saved me or what but he left . . . and I ran. ' - Maria Murillo, attacked near 5th and New Hampshire streets
* Stories in this package were written and reported by Jim Newton, Leslie Berger, Richard Lee Colvin and Henry Weinstein.
* A look at neighborhoods in Los Angeles that had the highest numbers of violent crimes in 1993 appears on Pages B2-B3.
Thousands of violent crimes were reported last year in each of the Los Angeles Police Department’s four geographic bureaus. Some neighborhoods have been disproportionately affected, and the LAPD, using publicly available data, has prepared a series of reports targeting such areas for special attention. Here is a look at the department’s four bureaus and 1993 violent crimes in four major categories.
Location of L.A. Police Stations
251 E. 6th St.
2710 W. Temple St.
2111 E. 1st St.
3353 San Fernando Rd.
1354 Newton St.
1358 N. Wilcox Ave.
4861 Venice Blvd.
8) West Los Angeles
1663 Butler Ave.
12312 Culver Blvd.
9) Van Nuys
6240 Sylmar Ave.
10) West Valley
19020 Vanowen St.
15) North Hollywood
11480 Tiara St.
12760 Osborne St.
10250 Etiwanda Ave.
1546 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
2175 John S. Gibson Blvd.
12) 77th Street
235 W. 77th Street
145 W. 108th St.
Violent Crime Rates for 1993
Aggravated Assaults: 11,975
Aggravated Assaults: 12,914
Aggravated Assaults: 7,399
Aggravated Assaults: 10,345
Source: Los Angeles Police Department, quarterly reports on Selected Crimes and Attempts by Reporting Districts