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Valley Homicides Up 21% Over First Half of Last Year

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Homicides during the first six months of this year were up in the San Fernando Valley, while the number of killings continued to decline in the rest of Los Angeles, police statistics show.

So far this year, 39 people have been killed in the Valley, compared to 32 people during the first half of 1997--a rise of 21%. Elsewhere in the city, homicides were down as much as 45%.

Los Angeles Police Department officials in the Valley say the numbers are not cause for alarm.

“It’s higher than last year, but there’s not a significant pattern at all. There’s no major [gang] war going on,” said Lt. Fred Tuller, coordinator for the Valley Bureau’s Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums unit. “Even though we’re talking lives, it’s a relatively small number.”

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The statistics were discussed during a FASTRAC meeting with division captains and LAPD top brass at police headquarters Thursday. Part of the program, which stands for Focus, Accountability, Strategy, Teamwork, Response and Coordination, is to regularly examine statistics in an effort to discover patterns and develop strategies to combat crime.

Overall, the LAPD saw a 34% decrease in homicides during the first six months of this year compared with the first six months of 1997. There were also decreases in robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft, according to statistics. There was a 2% increase in rapes and a 15% increase in personal thefts.

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Van Nuys Division was the only one in the Valley that saw a decrease in killings during the first half of this year. In 1997, eight people were slain in the division between Jan. 1 and the last week of June. This year, there have been six homicides.

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There have been seven homicides so far this year in Devonshire Division, four more than during the same period last year. Foothill and North Hollywood divisions had three more homicides, at 10 and 12, respectively. West Valley Division had four homicides, one more than last year.

LAPD spokesman Lt. Tony Alba attributed the rise in Valley homicides to gang-on-gang crime, and said it’s time for residents to use “citizen intimidation” and report gang problems to the police.

“It’s kind of a wake-up thing for the community in the San Fernando Valley that they need to work more closely with the police to try and eradicate gang activity,” he said.

“We want to take back all the neighborhoods in the Valley from any gangs, but the only way we’re going to do that is to receive information from people regarding gang activity.”

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