While the numbers of homicides and other violent crimes across Los Angeles were down for the 10th straight year in 2012, the LAPD's Rampart Division saw an increase in homicides over the previous year.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announced the news Monday, Jan. 7, at a press conference.
Homicides citywide remained below 300 for the third year in a row, down from more than a thousand two decades ago.
Locally, the Rampart Division saw a spike in homicides with 19, compared to 13 in 2011.
Rampart Co-Commander Gina Sanders said the rise is baffling detectives, who have seen a homicide a week in the division over the last eight weeks.
Some of the killings have involved gang members and may have involved turf disputes, but they don't seem to be the kind of retaliatory killings that would signal a gang war, Sanders said.
Citywide gang homicides dropped to a record low 152 in 2012.
Sanders said she is encouraged by the dip seen in Rampart's violent crimes—down 9 percent—especially aggravated assaults, down 13 percent. Reports of gunfire were also down, she said, with an 11 percent drop in the total number of shots fired—111 in 2012 compared to 125 in 2011.
The number of people reported struck by gunfire was also down 7 percent year over year, with 56 in 2012.
Across the city, a small increase in property crimes was recorded. Chief Beck attributed the increase to more thefts of electronic devices such as cell phones and computers, which are attractive to thieves and car burglars.
Like Los Angeles overall, Rampart also experienced a rise in property crimes in 2012, up 9 percent overall through Dec. 29.
The increase was fueled by a 30 percent rise in vehicle burglaries, many in the later months of the year.
"It's an easy crime," Sanders said. "Most happen on a graveyard shift when no on can see it."
Rampart began 2012 with a high number of property thefts, which dropped significantly in the second half of the year as car burglaries rose, Sanders said.
The division's priorities for 2013 will include a continued focus on vehicle break-ins, as well as a continued reduction in overall crime, with the goal of just 17 incidents per week, Sanders said.
Information from City News Service was used in this report.