Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday that the city had the lowest number of crimes last year since 1959, and that overall crime was down for the ninth consecutive year, but there was one more homicide than in the previous year.
A total of 104,215 violent and property crimes were logged in 2011, the lowest per-capita rate since 1952, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
Beck and Villaraigosa attributed the decline to the size of the police force—9,963 officers—which had been threatened by budget cuts early last year.
"We are a tempting target because we are so big and consume so much of the city's budget, but that is a false savings," Beck said. "Money towards public safety is the best money, the most important job of government."
Beck ticked off a list of reductions in violent and property crimes, including drops of 19.9 percent and 8 percent for rapes and robberies, respectively, and a 5 percent reduction in burglaries, car thefts and other property crimes.
In the North Hollywood Division's patrol area, , and homicides were reduced from 13 to seven. See this story for a review of the major crimes in the area:
Beck singled out a 5.7 percent drop in aggravated assaults as particularly significant, calling the crime a precursor to homicide.
He said the city had more work to do in the area of gang reduction. More than half of the homicides last year were gang-related, Beck said.
The number of homicides totaled 298—one more than in 2010.
"That's still lower than any other year since 1967," Beck said, adding, "One more is one too many."
The police chief said his goal for 2012 is to bring the total number of serious crimes below 100,000, a target he called "the holy grail of policing in Los Angeles."
The Los Angeles Fire Department and Airport Police also reported 2011 statistics.
Fire Chief Brian Cummings described the year as a busy one with a number of major incidents that tested a controversial deployment plan enacted last July that he said reduced the department's footprint and "matched it more closely to the needs and the calls in each of our districts." Those major incidents in the North Hollywood area included .
Cummings said there were 379,437 calls to the department in 2011, a 1.7 percent increase over the previous year. About 83 percent were emergency medical service calls.
The LAFD transported nearly 195,000 people to area hospitals, Cummings said, noting that eight civilians and one firefighter died during LAFD responses last year. The firefighter, Glenn Allen, died .
Crimes at Los Angeles International Airport dropped 27 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, despite a 5 percent increase in the number of passengers traveling through the airport, Los Angeles Airport Police Chief George Centeno said.
There were 1,095 arrests made at LAX last year, down 18.7 percent from the previous year. Three robberies and two aggravated assaults were logged, but there were no reported homicides or rapes at the airport last year.
Centeno said a large portion of $4.1 billion in construction projects at LAX involve security enhancements, including a closed-circuit security camera system, new fencing and an in-line baggage screening system.
"LAX is one of the safest, high-density and high-traffic areas in the city," Centeno said. "The total number of crimes is remarkably low, given that over a quarter of a million people—travelers, visitors and workers—come to LAX every day."