Their secret? Expanding hiring beyond just white men. Working with the communities they police. And, it's implied, taking a tougher stance on police corruption.
In Los Angeles, a Police Force Transformed - NYTimes.com
The department, once widely assailed as racist, homophobic, authoritarian and corrupt, is now viewed as more friend than foe by most people in this city, including blacks and Hispanics, according to polls. A 2009 poll by The Los Angeles Times found that 8 in 10 voters strongly or somewhat approved of the performance of the department, with 76 percent of Latinos and 68 percent of blacks giving the agency positive grades; some analysts said that given the relative lack of contentious issues and the continuing drop in the crime rate, the department’s approval numbers have if anything continued to improve since that time.
What is more, officials announced last month that the violent crime rate had declined 9.6 percent from last year, the ninth consecutive year of decline.
The number of homicides last year, when 297 people were killed, was the lowest since 1967, when the city was one-third smaller. “We are on track again this year to have under 300 homicides — that’s a number I thought I would never see in Los Angeles,” Chief Beck said.
The decline, reflecting trends in other big cities, is particularly striking in Los Angeles because of the department’s troubled history and because the force, which has just under 10,000 uniformed employees, is smaller per capita than many of the nation’s largest cities, including New York.
The turnaround reflects initiatives that have changed the way the department looks, how it battles crime and how it relates to the community. It reflects the considerable success of the last police chief, William J. Bratton, who took over at a time of turmoil and imposed many of the reforms that he had brought as New York’s police commissioner, among them statistical models to track crime and establishing personal relationships between police officers and residents.
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