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L.A.'s crime rates continue to fall, city statistics show

March 2, 2010 | 12:55 pm

http://latimes.image2.trb.com/lanews/media/photo/2009-12/50843197.jpg

The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday bid farewell to its inspector general; received a somewhat encouraging update on the saga to install video cameras in patrol cars; and heard that the city’s crime rates continued to plummet.

Andre Birotte Jr., who has served in the watchdog capacity for the last seven years, was awarded the Distinguished Service medal by the civilian oversight panel. As inspector general, Birotte ran a department responsible for conducting investigations and audits of the department’s handling of officer misconduct and other sensitive issues.

Birotte departs this week to assume his new position as United States attorney for Southern California.

On a less celebratory note, Maggie Goodrich, the Los Angeles Police Department’s top technology official, briefed the commission on the department’s error-plagued effort to install video cameras in its roughly 1,200 patrol vehicles.

Fed up after hearing about the latest technical glitches and inadequate testing, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reassigned the previous project director and put Goodrich directly in charge in January.

On Tuesday, Goodrich told commissioners that problems with the cameras’ image quality and internal time-keeping system had been remedied. Testing by a few officers will begin soon and a general rollout could begin late next month, she said.

Beck, as he does each week, reviewed the latest crime statistics for the city. After several years of falling crime rates, the LAPD has posted a strong start in 2010. Homicides are down 28% from the same period last year, with 38 killings through Monday and the number of gang-related homicides down by about 50%.   Overall, serious violent crime, including rapes and robberies, fell 13% and property crimes dropped more than 9%.

-- Joel Rubin

Photo: LAPD detectives investigating shooting at Valley temple last year. Al Seib / L.A. Times

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