Big drop in homicides gives Compton residents a new sense of freedom
Compton recorded a significant drop in homicides in 2010, according to data released Monday.
Compton recorded 24 homicides in 2010, compared with 36 in 2009. The count is the lowest it’s been in years -- and far below 1991, when the city tallied 87 slayings.
Other types of violent crime, including assaults and rape, are also down. Sheriff’s officials have attributed the decline to a decade-long effort to build bonds in the community in the fight against gang violence – and an infusion of extra resources when those efforts were floundering.
“This is the culmination of a long relationship,” said Capt. Diane Walker of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department's Compton station, which has patrolled the city for about a decade. “Residents aren’t just calling us for emergencies anymore. They give us tips, they help us in crime prevention.”
Cmdr. Todd Rogers said those ties have allowed deputies to focus in on the “right arrests.” “Initially, we had to go in there do a lot of arrests, take guns off the street… really saturate the area, really retake the streets,” he said. “Enforcement is even more targeted now.”
The effect can readily be seen on the city’s streets, according to longtime residents. “You see more people out and about,” said Charles Davis, who served for several decades as Compton’s city clerk. “You see a lot more people outside.
There was a time when, if you had to be outside, you would be in your backyard, not your frontyard.” Minnie Jones, 84, a Compton resident since 1951, measures the changes by walks in the park. In the late 1990s, she was strolling to a local park with two friends one morning when three youths approached and demanded they give up their money and car keys.
Her male companion’s car was stripped, and her own car was later used in a robbery, she recalled. Jones said the crime was traumatizing -- but now, the park is once again hers.
“I’m over there all the time now,” Jones said. “Yes, I do feel safer.”
--Robert Faturechi, Ann M. Simmons and Shan Li