Killing in Long Beach

The last time the combination of Long Beach and crime was featured in this space, some of the area's dimmer predatory perverts were doing their part to help NBC's ratings. Now comes better news.

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, crime is down in LBC, despite what you might see on Dateline NBC's hidden cameras.

City crime rates dropped for the fourth consecutive year, including the lowest number of murders - 41 - since Long Beach began tracking crime statistics more than 30 years ago, according to 2006 statistics released by the city.

Although overall crime was down 3.3 percent for 2006, the city saw a 28.8 percent leap in forcible rape cases that year, according to the city's annual crime report.

City officials attributed the jump in rapes to an unusual decrease in 2005, when 104 forcible rapes were reported compared with 134 in 2006.


Despite the rise in rapes, Long Beach saw an overall drop of 4.3 percent in violent, or Part I, crimes.


For the first time in more than 40 years, there were no murders reported in the East Division, which covers the entire city east of Cherry Avenue. Overall, there were 41 homicides reported in 2006, compared with 42 the previous year, for a 2.4 percent reduction.

The 2006 murder rates are the lowest since 1971, when 31 homicides were recorded. City officials are quick to note that the city's population of 350,000 residents at that time was far lower than today's roughly 500,000 residents.


Long Beach also experienced a 2 percent dip in overall property, or Part II, crimes. Major reductions occurred in the number of garage burglaries, a 24.7 percent decrease, and auto thefts, with 460 fewer vehicles stolen for a drop of 12.3 percent.

This dramatic dip in killing people comes as The Police Executive Research Forum, a D.C.-based think tank run by various big-city police chiefs (including L.A.'s William Bratton), is trumpeting a study warning of "a gathering storm" (Bratton's phrase) of violent crimes. It's no surprise that a D.C. think tank whose board of directors is made up of police chiefs would issue such a dire prediction, even though it is based on rather suspect methodology. If there was Men's Hatter's Executive Research Forum, I imagine I could spend my afternoons reading grim reports on the growing threat of men's hatlessness.

If the relative safety of Long Beach makes you think the place must be boring, you couldn't be more wrong, according to a story in Sunday's Times. The Times quotes a Mr. W. Swaim of Irvine, who says of Long Beach,

"It's a city with everything — visionary artists, great bars and restaurants, a thriving music scene and a culture of political corruption that's like Christmas every day for investigative reporters," Swaim said. "I feel like I've discovered a little Chicago."

Mr. Swaim, and several others whose names sound familiar to me, will be expounding on their discoveries here. Should be very interesting. Killer, even.


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