COMPTON — Despite a slight overall drop in reports of major crimes, violent offenses reported here increased 19% last year with police reporting all-time highs in instances of rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
The 442-incident rise in violent crimes--crimes against persons rather than property--came as Compton registered a 20-year low in burglaries, its lowest number of auto thefts since 1966 and a two-thirds drop in arsons.
In all, city crime was down about 1%--from 8,492 offenses in 1983 to 8,410 in 1984--marking the seventh overall decline in the last eight years.
Most of that long-term reduction has come in burglary offenses, which have dropped by more than half since 1975. Violent crime had been relatively stable for the five years before the increases of 1984.
"Crimes of violence really don't fall within what police departments consider repressible crime," Asst. Chief Gilbert Sandoval said Thursday. "We can't deploy (officers) to prevent them. These are problems that result from interplay among people, and we really can't control most of these crimes that occur behind doors."
Chief James Carrington could not be reached for comment.
Block Clubs Credited The continuing and dramatic drop in property crime, however, can be attributed to specific action--the rallying of the community to form 150 block clubs in which neighbors watch out for each other, said Sandoval.
"They (block clubs) are now making it difficult for perpetrators of this type of crime," said Sandoval of burglaries, which have dropped from 4,528 to 2,084 in the last 10 years, and thefts, which are down 1,000 in a decade.
The decreasing rate of property offenses is also helping Compton improve its crime ranking among California cities.
Its statewide standing in incidences of major crime has improved from 34th in 1982 to 14th in 1983 among 452 police jurisdictions, said Dennis Rose, research manager for the Office of Criminal Justice Planning. Compton had 10,012 crimes per 100,000 population in 1983, the most recent year for which the statistics are available.
While still high, that was a "fairly dramatic decline," said Rose. "I know that Compton has made a concerted effort against property crime with Neighborhood Watch (block clubs)."
Despite reductions, however, the city still had a 1983 crime rate 1 1/2 times that of the state and double that of the nation, according to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report.
Major crimes reported to the FBI and the state are divided into two main categories, violent crime and property crime.
The FBI report also shows that Compton's rate of violent crime was four times the state average in 1983 and 5 1/2 times the national average. The city's property crime rate, however, was average for California and 1 1/2 times the national average in 1983. Comparisons for last year will not be released until fall.
Compton's 1984 crime figures show increases in all four violent crime categories, with homicides up from 42 to 45, or 7%; rapes up from 135 to 171, 27%; robberies up from 1,125 to 1,429, 27%, and aggravated assaults up from 999 to 1,098, 10%.
Property Crime Down Conversely, property crime was lower in all categories, with burglaries down from 2,340 to 2,084, or 11%; thefts down from 2,401 to 2,223, 7%; auto thefts down from 1,355 to 1,327, 2%, and arson down from 95 to 33, 65%.
The Wednesday release of the 1984 figures came just three weeks before the opening of filings for the April 16 election for City Council, and Councilmen Robert Adams and Floyd James and Mayor Walter Tucker, whose terms expire this spring, said they think crime will be a campaign issue, though not be a major one.
"I don't think the community will criticize the council for crime being high," said James. "An opposing candidate might, but I think the community thinks there has been a great change because burglary and theft are down. These are the things that have really been aggravating our citizens, and we have done something about them."
Both James and Adams said the major crime concern of Compton residents has been drug trafficking, not violent crime.
"The main concern from the community is the trafficking of narcotics," said Adams. "I would think that would be the major issue."
Residents packed City Council chambers in mid-October to complain about the brazen sale of narcotics from street corners to customers in passing cars. They also said that city police had been rude, ineffective and insensitive to their complaints.
Adams, a longtime opponent of Police Chief Carrington, called for his resignation.
But Adams said Wednesday, "I'm not getting that many complaints now (about drug sales). The last reports I've received were that the problem was diminishing."
Specifically, complaints from the Tragniew Park area of southwestern Compton are down, he said. That area has been under intensive surveillance by a special crime task force for months, and numerous arrests and busts of cocaine "rock" houses were made last fall, said Asst. Chief Sandoval.