A violent city became even more violent during 1990, as murder and robbery in Los Angeles increased at double-digit rates, according to statistics released Monday by Police Chief Daryl F. Gates.
The number of rapes, which actually had dropped in 1989, climbed again, slightly, in 1990. Aggravated assaults increased by about 3%.
Perhaps the most optimistic news from the summary of crime reports between Jan. 1, 1990, and Dec. 31, 1990, was that, overall, major crime increased a scant 1% over the same period the year before. That is less than one-eighth of the overall increase in major crime during 1989.
Gates, seizing this theme, stated during a news conference at Parker Center police headquarters downtown that 1990 "was not as bad as we thought it was going to be. . . .
"Los Angeles is not a place where murder is running rampant," the chief said.
Gates said his departmental staff--extrapolating statistics for 1989 and the first 10 months of 1990--had predicted that the murder toll for 1990 in the city would reach 1,030, when, in fact, the total was 991.
The lower figure, he said, was the result of "extraordinary" law enforcement efforts by his officers.
However, under questioning, the chief did concede that the number of murders and robberies in the city has increased substantially during the last three years. He attributed this to the city's failure to fund adequate overtime for his officers and the large number of prisoners being released early from overcrowded jails.
The department's summary of major crime reports during 1990 lists the 991 homicides and 35,772 robberies. That means that during 1990 murders increased by 103, or 11.6%, over the year before, and robberies jumped by 5,027, or 16.4%.
During 1989, murders increased by 19.2% over the year before, and robberies went up by 18.9%.
Gates noted that the homicide rate for the city last year worked out to 28.3 murders for every 100,000 residents, considerably below the rate of 35 per 100,000 in 1980.
Police spokesman Cmdr. William Booth said the 1,024 homicides in 1980 was a record for the city. He said that record resulted from police cutbacks forced by reduced funding by the city.
The crime summary released Monday showed that rapes increased last year by 1.8%, to 2,020. Aggravated assaults were up 3.1%, to 45,033.
In all, there were 327,858 major crimes reported in 1990, compared with 324,588 in 1989, an increase of 1%.
The summary listed 299,923 major crimes during 1988, so, in percentage terms, 1990's increase was less than one-eighth of the increase in 1989, when the jump was 8.22%.
Gates said a staff analysis of crime "hot spots" throughout the city showed there were 16 census tracts--most of them along a corridor centering on Figueroa Street in South-Central Los Angeles--that had a much higher rate of homicides than the rest of the city.
During December, 1989, he said, 24 homicides occurred in these tracts. He said that by deploying a special Homicide Suppression Task Force in the area during December, 1990, the number of murders there was reduced to 14.
The chief said that in a related operation, the department launched a special task force targeting a gang believed to have committed 55 robberies in the South-Central area during November and December.
Gates said two people were murdered during the robberies. One of them was Tomasa Rivas, a 44-year-old mother of four.
In all, 41 arrests have been made in the crackdown on the robbery gang, the chief said. Seven of the arrests were in connection with the Rivas murder and two were in connection with the other murder.
L.A. CRIME RATES
The number of cr imes reported from 1988 to 1990, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Homicide