Though Long Beach saw a slight increase in homicides in 2013, preliminary data indicated the overall number of reported violent crimes dropped to the lowest in more than four decades, police said Thursday.
Violent crime dropped more than 13.5% from 2012, from 2,705 reported incidents to 2,340, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said, calling the numbers "a cause for celebration" for the city.
Of the violent crime categories -- homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- only killings increased in 2013, McDonnell said. Thirty-two homicides were reported in 2013, compared to 30 in 2012.
Of those 32 slayings, 19 were investigated as gang-related, McDonnell said, compared to 14 the year before.
The chief noted double-digit decreases in categories including reported rapes, down 11.3% in 2013, and robberies, down 10%. Both were the lowest numbers reported since 1970, McDonnell said.
Aggravated assaults were down 17.4%, the department reported. Property crimes were also down overall, with the biggest drops in bicycle theft (25.6%) and petty theft over $50 (20%).
Officer-involved shootings, however, rose in 2013 to a total of 15, McDonnell said. He said his department is looking at ways to reduce that number, and is consulting with both internal and external use-of-force experts as well as community groups.
"While we're all concerned about increases in anything across the board, we look very critically at the numbers of the business of policing," McDonnell said.
Of the 15 officer-involved shootings in 2013, excluding accidental discharges and animal shootings; six were fatal. Of the seven officer-involved shootings in 2012, two were fatal.