CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / LOS ANGELES
The number of slayings in Los Angeles in the first half of 2009 is down nearly a third compared with the same period last year, the Los Angeles Police Department reported Tuesday.
The homicide figures, 137 between Jan. 1 and June 30 compared with 197 for the same period in 2008, reflect half a decade of declines in violent and property crime that have continued despite double-digit unemployment in Los Angeles.
Violent crime, including aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery, fell by nearly 6% in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period last year. Assaults were down 8%, and there were 11% fewer reports of shots fired and 18% fewer shooting victims.
Those declines come as the city heads into the crucial summer months, when violent crime tends to increase.
So far, the numbers do not appear to reflect fallout from continued economic decline. Led by a 17% drop in auto thefts, property crime fell 7% overall through June 30 compared with the same period in 2008. Robbery, which is classified as a violent crime but also can be affected by an economic downturn, fell 3.4% in the first half of 2009. Spousal and child abuse also was down, by about 3%.
-- Andrew Blankstein