As we enter a new year, your hard work and dedication continue to drive the Department to the forefront of the law enforcement community. Through your innovative policing strategies and targeted crime fighting efforts, the City of Los Angeles has enjoyed an unprecedented seven straight years of crime decline. As the country deals with a major recession and the City faces major budget problems, Angelenos can at least feel assured that if the Department continues with its plan to hire 1,000 additional officers, you will be able to continue to drive down crime, particularly gang crime.
Your achievements over the past year give you much to be proud of. While the 2008 year end crime numbers have yet to come in, one thing is clear – you continue to have a major impact on crime. Since 2002, violent crime is down 49%, property crimes have decreased 28% and Part I Crimes have fallen 34%. In addition, there were over 1,600 fewer shooting victims this year in comparison to the same time period. Over the past year alone, homicides have dropped 8.7%. Without a doubt, cops count, police matter – you are the difference. These reductions are no aberration. They are the proud results of committed personnel dedicated to the communities it serves – personnel, both sworn and civilian, second to none.
Particularly impressive is your success in the battle against gang crime. With reductions in nearly every category thus far, you have been able to cutback gang homicides by 27%, aggravated assaults by 15%, shooting victims by 23%, and decrease gang crime overall by 11% since 2007. Anti-gang strategies such as the Department’s enactment of gang injunctions, establishment of the Top Ten Most Wanted Gang Members list and South Bureau Criminal Gang Homicide Group, and the identification of the City’s “Top Targeted Street Gangs” have proven to be highly successful. To date, gang arrests have increased 107% since 2002. The City’s Summer Night Lights anti-gang youth program also delivered the communities surrounding the Summer Night Lights parks remarkable declines after the program’s eight-week run. In partnering with the community and collaborating with our neighboring local, county, state, and federal colleagues, together, you have delivered remarkable results. With the announcement of the Department’s new 2009 gang initiatives later this month, I fully expect the numbers to drop even more.
In the year 2009, we will celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Los Angeles Police Department. 2009 will be a year-long commemoration of the LAPD legacy, a legacy which you are all now a part of. Much like a spectacular fireworks show which slowly builds and intensifies into its grand finale, the Department’s festivities will include monthly celebrations highlighting some of the Department’s finest personnel and outstanding achievements, as well as the opening of the Department’s 20th and 21st area stations, Olympic and Topanga, in January followed by the openings of the Harbor and Hollenbeck replacement stations, new Metro Detention Center and Property Division and City’s Emergency Operations Center. This year will culminate in November with the long-awaited, history making grand opening of the new Police Administration Building, the most expensive and technologically advanced police facility in the nation.
What began as a small Department of six officers in 1869 has now grown to nearly 10,000 strong with a force world renowned for its leadership, accomplishments and professionalism. The LAPD has developed a reputation of excellence among the law enforcement community and is a Department of many firsts, including the first Policewoman, first African American officer, establishing the first municipal crime lab and first Special Weapons and Tactical Unit in the nation. For 14 decades the Los Angeles Police Department has faithfully and proudly protected and served the City of Los Angeles, and will continue to do so, leading the way as America’s 21st century model for professional and successful policing.