The crime statistics for 2012 released earlier this week by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck were good news all across the board... except for one.
Crime in the city of Los Angeles was down for the 10th consecutive year, including significant reductions in violent and gang-related crimes. However, the San Fernando Valley has seen a, which is due primarily to a rise in the North Hollywood and Foothill areas.
A closer look at the North Hollywood Division's homicides reveals that the area's residents have no cause to be alarmed, said .
Violent crime overall has fallen in the division's area by 18 percent in 2012, a drop that includes a 35 percent reduction in rapes, as well as significant reductions in robberies, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, gang-related crimes and property crimes. Overall for 2012, the North Hollywood Division has seen the second-largest decline in violent crime of the department's 21 divisions, Whittingham said. At this point last year, the division was No. 6 overall.
"I'm very proud of what we have seen in the NoHo area this year," Whittingham told Patch.
When it comes to the rise in homicides, one needs to take a step back and look at each individual case to see why there is no cause for alarm, Whittingham said.
Last year, the North Hollywood Division recorded seven total homicides, while this year there has already been a total of eight. The stats released this week were for the first half of 2012 through June 30 and showed seven homicides in the area, but a homicide occurred on July 2 in North Hollywood, bringing the total to eight for all of 2012.
However, none of the homicides this year have been considered gang related, which is the type of violent crime that has traditionally been responsible for a great deal of the murders in Los Angeles and the North Hollywood area, Whittingham pointed out. Also, in each of the homicides police believed to be a murder that occurred in 2012, all of the suspects have been arrested, killed by police or identified.
Another important factor Whittingham pointed out is that "homicide" does not mean "murder," it actually is defined as "death by the hand of another." This can be any kind of death, including when a police officer shoots a suspect. Even when the shooting is justified, it is still registered as a homicide.
One of the homicides occurred on June 12 when seven LAPD officers . The suspect, Oscar Sermeno, was believed to have just shot a father and son to death in cold blood after an argument. This instance of violence then accounts for three of the area's eight homicides in 2012.
"Here we saw that due to our quick response, the suspect was identified, we gave pursuit, and the chase ultimately led to the suspect's demise," Whittingham said.
Another of this year's registered homicides actually occurred in 1996. Whittingham said a death that was initially ruled a drug overdose was reinvestigated and reclassified as a homicide, but still counts toward the 2012 crime stats.
On Jan. 9, in an incident that made headlines around the city, Danilo Estuardo Morales was shot to death when trying to rescue his grandfather from a robbery. .
On March 21, in what police believe was domestic violence, a woman was found stabbed to death in South Weddington Park. .
On June 2, police believe a man stabbed his roommate to death after an argument. .
On July 1, a man was on the 5300 block of Cartright Avenue in the NoHo Arts District suffering from a head wound. He died in a hospital a day later. Whittingham said police believe the man was gambling with another man and was punched before falling to the ground and injuring his head. Whittingham said the suspect in the homicide has been indentified.
"I am very confident we will have him in custody in a short amount of time," he added.
The main message Whittingham wants to get across to the people that live in the North Hollywood Division's area is that there is a lot to celebrate this year when it comes to the dramatic fall in violent crime and to the LAPD's successful investigations of the homicides that have occurred.
"Most of these homicides have not been the types that can necessarily be anticipated or prevented. However, when they do occur, we are determined to solve them in as short of a time as possible," Whittingham said.