The city that once had a murder every other week is now the 10th safest in the country among cities with populations of 100,000 to 500,000, Police Chief Wayne C. Clayton announced Thursday.
El Monte’s overall crime rate dropped 12% in 1996, according to recently released FBI crime statistics. Only Glendale and Santa Clarita were rated safer among similar-sized cities in Los Angeles County.
In 1995 there were 30 murders, but there have been none so far this year, said Assistant Chief Bill Ankeny.
Clayton credits the declining crime rate in part to a nationwide trend. But the decline in El Monte was helped by the addition of 20 officers during the last four years, bringing the force to 135 officers, as well as new crime-fighting programs and technology, Clayton said.
The department now deploys a helicopter patrol and targets at-risk youths through a truancy program. In addition, it opened a citizen police academy and a satellite police station near the Valley Mall.