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Valley’s Violent Crime Fell in ’94 : Statistics: LAPD figures, highlighted by 40% decline in homicides, show continuation of positive trend. Residents’ fear, however, is still strong.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Violent crime decreased throughout the Valley and the rest of the city in 1994, according to year-end Los Angeles Police Department statistics.

“I’m encouraged that crime is down, not just because it’s down in 1994, but because it’s the third straight year of decrease in the San Fernando Valley,” said Deputy Chief Martin Pomeroy, who is beginning his second year as commander of the LAPD’s five Valley divisions. “It says the San Fernando Valley is a safer place to live and do business than it was three or four years ago.”

Homicides were down 40% last year in the Valley--84 compared to 140 in 1993. In Los Angeles as a whole, homicides were down about 21%.

Robberies decreased by more than 16% in the Valley, aggravated assaults were down by 7%, and rapes decreased by 17%.

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Friday’s figures came as no surprise, however, since police had previously released statistics showing a drop in crime through the first 11 months of 1994.

There were some anomalies: Rapes in the West Valley Division were up by more than 22%. Van Nuys and Devonshire reported increases in the number of aggravated assaults, although they were below 4%.

Most property crimes in the Valley also were down in 1994. Burglaries, thefts and stolen cars all declined.

Pomeroy noted several reasons for the decreases, including an emphasis on community policing, increased citizen involvement in the form of Neighborhood Watch programs, a local gang truce that prevented bloodshed, and the Northridge quake, which cut crime during the early part of 1994.

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The only crime category that grew was thefts from cars, which increased just more than 2%.

The year-end tallies show that the biggest increase in danger to Valley residents comes from serious traffic accidents, which were up almost 4%. Serious collisions increased in the North Hollywood Division by almost 36%, in the West Valley by 23% and in Foothill by 19%. Citywide, the number of serious accidents held steady through 1994.

Pomeroy outlined four police priorities for 1995: a continued reduction in crime, continued efforts to ensure prompt and courteous service, continued efforts toward effective leadership and officer training and improving the implementation of community policing.

He acknowledged that the perception of crime in the Valley is one of his department’s bigger problems--in spite of the strides made in controlling crime, people are still frightened.

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High-profile crimes such as the killings of two police officers, last summer’s discovery of three decomposed bodies in a Northridge self-storage unit and other widely publicized violence rally the public’s fears, he said.

“We have to realize that a single major crime seen on the 11 o’clock news or in the morning paper fuels the public perception of an increase in the crime rate, when in actuality, that type of crime may have shown a significant decrease,” Pomeroy said. “Unfortunately, in modern society, no place in America is immune from those dangers we all face.”


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