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NEWS IN BRIEF: A summary of developments across Los
Angeles County | Community News File / Santa Monica

Chief Sees Many Reasons for Decline in Crime Rate

January 22, 1998

Police Chief James T. Butts Jr. has attributed Santa Monica's lowest crime rate in 30 years to a stronger partnership between police and the community, stricter laws and a crackdown on the sale, possession and use of narcotics in the city.

"Narcotics was a significant problem before," Butts said. "In Palisades Park and Joslen Park we were dealing with a lot of street sales of heroin and cocaine.

"The department has made thousands of arrests for narcotics over last five years, and we have a 90% conviction rate for drug charges," he said.

The department, which employs 200 officers, has also benefited from a new computerized crime-tracking system that sorts criminal activity according to location, day of week and time of day, Butts said.

In 1997, there was only one homicide reported, the lowest number since the department started compiling statistics in 1956, and 34 rapes, the lowest in 21 years.

Last year was the fourth consecutive year that crime has fallen in the city. Since 1993, serious crime has declined 41%, auto thefts 54% and burglaries 49%.

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