Mid-year stats show overall decrease in crime, police say

Despite complaints from residents about high-visibility crimes making rounds on social media, police officials say yearly crime rates are actually down when compared to last year and the average over the past five years.

At a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, Commander Robert Smith told council members that the city has seen a 12.2% decrease in violent crime and a 5.5% decrease in property crime through July this year compared to 2018.

When compared to the five-year average, violent crime is down 12.9% and property crime is down by 14.2%, Smith said.

When it comes to the most serious crime, there have been 19 criminal homicides citywide so far this year compared to 20 for the same timespan in 2018, police said. However, the city is up slightly—by one killing—compared to the average of the last five years, smith said.

Councilwoman Suzie Price asked if police knew if there was any reason to believe that there was an uptick of gang activity this year. Smith said he wasn’t aware of any, but LBPD’s analysts are “always looking” for trends and issues with gangs.

There have been seven gang-related slayings in 2019 versus five in 2018, according to Smith.

“If you look back over the years like I have, that is fairly, that’s an average,” Smith said. “Typically our gang-related murders are less than half of our overall numbers.”

A rash of shootings in the spring—including one weekend in May with eight shootings—startled residents and stoked fears of rising gang violence.

“When we share statistics regarding public safety with our community and we talk about number of murders, in some communities, that may cause a fear that there’s general violence out there,” Price said. “But when we look into the cases, a lot of time we’re dealing with parties that are known to each other, have some sort of circumstance that has brought them together as opposed to a victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

One outlier in decreasing violent crime reported across the city are rape statistics, according to LBPD data.

In July’s crime statistics, the number sexual assault were up compared to the previous year. Reports increased by 19%, or 23 incidents, from the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019, according to LBPD data. Victims advocates have said the increase may be attributable to the #MeToo movement encouraging more victims to speak up.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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