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Crime Is Up In Los Angeles For The First Time In 12 Years

Mayor Eric Garcetti (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)
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After enjoying several years of falling crime rates, Los Angeles has experienced a surge in crime of about 12 percent, much of it violent in nature.Crime has been on the decline in Los Angeles since 2003. In the last six months, however, violent and property crimes have gone up about 12.7 percent across the city, according to City News Service. In particular, violent crime—which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault— is up 20.6 percent total since the same time last year. Good news: murder is actually down 6.7 percent. Bad news: rape went up by 7.9 percent, aggravated assault by 26.3 percent and robbery by 16.6 percent. There has also been a surge in burglary by 15.8 percent, car theft by 13.8 percent and larceny by 8.9 percent.

In a press conference held this morning to address the crime surge, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that it was indeed "bad news, but my administration doesn't run away from bad news." He was accompanied by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. The two said that the surge might stem from an increase in domestic violence and homelessness. To combat that, Garcetti said that there will now be domestic violence response teams in all 21 police divisions by the end of the summer. Additionally, there will be 200 police officers added to a back-up unit station outside of the LAPD Metropolitan Division.

Garcetti also said that all officers will undergo increased training, which will include training on de-escalating force and how to properly respond to those who are mentally ill. Officers will also take "preservation of life training," Beck said, KTLA reports.

"2015 has been a very tough year for policing in America and policing in Los Angeles," Beck said.

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It's impossible not to immediately think of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old, unarmed black man whose family said he had a history of mental illness. Ford was shot and killed by two police officers in South L.A. While Beck found the two officers to have acted within policy, the Police Commission found that one of them did not. Yesterday, Beck was ordered by a federal judge to answer questions from the Ford family's lawyer about Ford's death. The shooting, which occurred shortly after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, inspired numerous protests against police brutality.

Garcetti and Beck also both drew attention to the passing of Proposition 47 in November of 2014, which reduced nonviolent crimes like shoplifting and drug possession to misdemeanors. Garcetti said the money saved by not jailing the offenders was supposed to go towards intervention programs, but that it never happened. Beck said that while Prop 47 cannot "be taken out of the equation," there isn't any data yet that would support that it's a factor, according to KPCC. Beck said several studies are still being done across the state on Prop 47's effects.

Garcetti made sure to note that Los Angeles is still "incredibly safe," and still has lower crime rates than many other major cities in the U.S. According to the L.A. Times, the surge did start to slow down in March.