Killings decline sharply in L.A.  

Posted by BlognThings in

Los Angeles is on track to end the year with fewer than 400 homicides for the first time in nearly four decades -- a hopeful milestone for a city so long associated with gangs, drive-by shootings and sometimes random violence.

With 386 killings recorded as of this morning, the city has experienced one-third the number of homicides it did in 1992. The last year with a comparably low figure was 1970, when Los Angeles had a million fewer residents, guns were far less prevalent and street gangs were a much smaller part of life in urban neighborhoods.

Experts and Los Angeles Police Department officials have offered a wide range of theories for the drop, including the gentrification of once-tough neighborhoods, improved emergency medical care and better policing.

George Beck and his son Charlie -- two generations of LAPD officers -- have seen the full arc of homicides' rise and fall in Los Angeles. Much has changed over the last 37 years in the way police deal with the crime, they said.

George Beck, 83, was an LAPD inspector in 1970 and rose to the rank of deputy chief. Back then, police had little information about what was happening on the streets, and top officials rarely showed up at homicide scenes to lead investigations.

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