Glendale sees 27% drop in violent crime; 4% overall

Los Angeles Daily News

Crime rate continues declining

By Naush Boghossian
Staff Writer

Saturday, January 01, 2005 – GLENDALE — The city’s crime rate is continuing a two-year decline, dropping 4.3 percent in the first 11 months of 2004, due largely to a 27 percent decrease in violent crimes, according to the latest statistics.

The decline comes on the heels of a 6.5 percent drop in the overall crime rate last year, including drops in robbery, burglary and theft.

The last time the city saw a rise in crime was when aggravated assaults jumped 22.2 percent and robberies 32.5 percent in 2002 compared with 2001.

“When we suffered a serious spike in felonious assaults a little over a year ago, we redirected our efforts to quell that and as a result we were very successful there,” said Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz. “However, redirecting our resources has caused us to suffer in other areas such as larceny and identity theft.”

While crimes in the Part I category — including willful homicide, robbery, burglary, arson and aggravated assault — continue their decline, the city’s Part II crimes — drugs, identity theft, elderly abuse, kidnapping — are on the rise.

The problem, police officials maintain, is resources are limited at the leanly staffed department, forcing administrators to juggle officers from one section to another to control problems.

For example, when vehicle theft increased 7.9 percent in 2003, police directed resources to target that problem. In the first 11 months of 2004, stolen vehicle incidents dropped 14.4 percent compared with the year before.

“It’s a teeter-totter effect,” Lorenz said. “We just don’t have a lot of people.”

Glendale, the third most populous city in Los Angeles County, has a staffing ratio of 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, while neighboring cities have nearly 1.6 officers per 1,000 residents. The national average is 2.3 officers per 1,000 residents.

The City Council gave the go-ahead in early 2004 to hire 100 more police officers over the next six years — which is expected to cost $16.7 million a year — so Glendale can keep pace with major crimes.

The increase in staffing is necessary, said city officials, who are concerned that spikes in gang activity, organized crime and white-collar crime could alter the city’s standing as one of the nation’s safer cities.

“I don’t want to get to a point that the statistics come out and Glendale’s ranking has dropped because we didn’t have enough police officers. We can’t wait for crime rates to go up and then take action,” Mayor Bob Yousefian said. “We’re not so crazy about spending millions of dollars, but we’re spending it because we truly believe this is money that needs to be spent. We need to be proactive.”

Identity theft, for example, which is not a Part I crime that’s considered in the crime rankings, has exploded in the city of Glendale.

In 2000, there were 23 cases reported, compared with 578 this year.

Other Part II crimes, including kidnapping, weapons violations and drug violations, increased in 2004.

“Just because it’s not a Part I crime, often people want to rest on the laurels of numbers that show a reduced crime rate, but those are only a small part of the whole picture,” Lorenz said. l=8s=8!dtpo st!Naush Boghossian, (818) 546-3306

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