Crime Edges Up in State

Crime Edges Up in State
The homicide rate in California’s biggest cities increased nearly 11% in 2002, and major crimes rose 3.8%, Lockyer says.
By Richard Winton
Times Staff Writer

April 28, 2003

The homicide rate in California’s largest cities and counties climbed nearly 11% in 2002 as major crimes also rose 3.8% compared with the year before, the state attorney general’s office announced Sunday.

Although the number of homicides was lower than at its peak in the early 1990s, there were 1,842 reported killings in 2002 — 179 more than during the year before, according to the preliminary figures.

“We must never forget the pain that each of these killings causes for families and communities,” Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer said in a statement.

Los Angeles’ homicide rate rose 11.1% during 2002, with 653 killings — the most for any city in the nation. The surge in homicides also was reflected in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, where the 135 killings were 25% more than in 2001.

There has been a downward trend this year, however, with 25% fewer homicides than in the same period in 2002, said Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton. As of April 19, he said, that meant 50 fewer homicides.

According to the attorney general’s office, the number of violent crimes in Los Angeles dropped 1.1% in 2002, but overall major crimes edged up 1.3%.

Elsewhere, there were 67 homicides in Long Beach in 2002, compared with 48 the year before. Violent crimes rose 6.2% and major crimes edged up 1.7%.

Pasadena continued its downward crime trend, with a 0.2% drop in major crimes and a 2.8% drop in violent crimes.

In Anaheim, major crimes jumped 7.3%, violent crimes rose 5.6% and the number of killings increased from eight to 18.

The preliminary report released by the attorney general’s office documents figures for 78 areas with populations of 100,000 or more. Those areas account for about 65% of the state’s crime.

Overall, the number of violent crimes in the state dropped by 0.1%. The rates climbed for homicide (10.8%), rape (2.9%) and robbery (3.7%), while aggravated assaults fell 2.3%. The category of major crimes includes those offenses plus property crimes (up 6%) and car theft (up nearly 9%). The 2002 rise in homicides followed a 30% drop in killings from 1996 to 2001.

Some California cities saw improvements in 2002.

San Diego’s 47 reported homicides represented a 6% drop. Violent crimes in Costa Mesa plunged nearly 31% thanks to a major drop in robberies and assaults. Inglewood saw a 30.1% drop in violent crimes with 28 killings, 10 fewer than in 2001.

But those gains were countered statewide by surges elsewhere. Oakland contributed to the jump in the state homicide rate with 108 killings — 28.6% more than 2001. In addition, major crimes climbed by 21.7% in Bakersfield, 19.9% in Palmdale and 13.9% in Lancaster.

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