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Recent killings in L.A. nearly erase gains in city's homicide rate

March 30, 2010 |  1:06 pm

Photo: A man walks through the apartment building where 

Karine Hakobyan lived. Hakobyan's body was found in the driver's seat of

 her car last Friday night at her apartment. She had been shot. (Katie 

Falkenberg / For The Times)

A recent series of killings in Los Angeles has nearly erased impressive gains made this year on the city’s homicide rate, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.

Over the last 11 days, 19 people have been killed. The bloodshed brings the number of killings this year to 70, Beck said during his weekly crime briefing to the Los Angeles Police Commission. Before the rise in violence, the LAPD had been posting double-digit decreases in the homicide rate compared to last year, in which a record low 314 people were killed.  Now, the city has experienced only two fewer killings compared to the same period last year.

Beck cautioned that spikes in violence and periods of calm are “the nature of homicide in Los Angeles,” and expressed confidence that police would be able to stem the recent uptick.  All but a few of the 19 killings were gang-related and the result of isolated flare-ups between warring gangs primarily in the city’s Hollenbeck and Foothill areas, Beck said.

To counter the bloodshed, the chief has ordered the temporary redeployment of officers from quieter parts of the city to those experiencing the killings.  He said he also hoped his recent decision to bolster the ranks of the LAPD’s 21 area stations with more than 150 officers previously assigned to specialized units would help matters.

The increased number of homicides, Beck emphasized, underscores the difficulty of policing the city during the ongoing fiscal crisis that has taken a toll on department budgets.  Unable to pay officers for overtime hours, Beck is requiring them to take days off from work instead.  The resulting decrease in manpower has made it hard for department commanders to deploy the additional officers needed when violence flares.

Overall, the rate of violent crime in the city, including rape and robbery, remains down nearly 15% over the same period last year, the chief reported.  Property crimes, such as auto thefts and burglaries, are also down.

-- Joel Rubin at LAPD headquarters


Photo: Hollywood apartment complex where a woman was slain Friday. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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