Murders down again

Los Angeles was slightly less homicidal again last year. The number of murders fell from 517 to 511, half of those in South L.A. and 6 in 10 due to gang violence, the Daily News says. It's the second year in a row that the homicide total dropped. It's now well below the toll of 658 people killed in 2002. The only hitch in the news is that police chief William Bratton had predicted a 20% drop last year. He came a little closer on violent crime, which fell 13.7% in the city. It all probably helps Mayor Hahn press his reelection case that, together with Bratton, he's making Los Angeles a safer city, but the challengers will likely keep saying that it's not enough.

Historical perspective: The murder toll was much higher in Los Angeles and in most big cities in the crack-stained 1980s. Even in 1994, according to the always helpful Los Angeles Almanac, there were 845 murders in Los Angeles and the population was smaller.

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