(Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
Homicides are down 13% in Los Angeles in 2013 compared with last year, and the city is on target to have the lowest number of killings since 1966, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday.
While overall crime is down about 5% compared with 2012, Beck said, the drop in homicides continues to amaze him. As of Thursday, the city reported 222 homicides.
"That is 33 less homicides so far this year than last year," Beck said in a news conference at the Olympic police station. "If things continue as they are going, we will end the year around 270 homicides.
INTERACTIVE: L.A. Times Homicide Report
"That would be the lowest total homicide count since 1966," he said. "At that time, the city was more than a million residents fewer."
Beck credits his department and the public for the success, including a greater rate of clearances -- police identifying suspects in homicides.
"Homicide clearances are three times back then," Beck said, referring to the 1970s to '90s. He said young officers are now problem-solvers and are far smarter than he was as a young cop.
Beck also noted that reported rapes were down 27% from 2012 so far this year and overall property crimes are down 3%.
The chief said that as a young officer and even as a sergeant he never would have projected such a drop-off.
The city reported 1,092 homicides in 1992, compared with 298 last year. The city's recent low was 295 homicides in 2010.
"When I was a young police officer working in South L.A., every year crime would increase," Beck recalled. "I started out in the late '70s .... It was just given that it would increase."
By the 1990s, as murders soared, he did not have a good feeling about the city's future regarding crime, he said.
"If you'd asked me in 1990 -- any time in the 1990s -- what it would be like in 2013, I would have thought 'Blade Runner,' " he said, referring to director Ridley Scott's futuristic, violent depiction of Los Angeles. "To see it reverse; really is going back in time ... it is amazing."