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Predictive-Policing Pilot a Success for LAPD

An area of the San Fernando Valley once known for widespread gang violence has turned a new leaf, marking the first 24-hour period without a report of violent crime in its 50-year history last week, officials said Friday.

The 50 square miles covered by the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill Division -- including the communities of Pacoima, La Tuna Canyon, Lake View Terrace, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, Sunland and Tujunga -- did not have any reports of homicides, rapes, robberies or aggravated assaults on Feb. 13.

"What's happening in the Northeast Valley is impressive," said Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas, who oversees LAPD's Valley Operations Bureau. "Given how much crime has come down from 2002 to now, it's just phenomenal."

The area has long been challenged by ongoing gang crime that drove up the numbers, but officials credit a multipronged approach to battling crime with suppressing both the gangs and the overall crime numbers.

Foothill has been home to a pilot predictive-policing model in the last year, with police targeting small "boxes" of geography that computer models show are likely crime hot spots. It has also paired with local social-service organizations for gang outreach and worked with community groups to open lines of communication between police and residents.

"We've really hit our sweet spot in terms of the relationship between our officers and the community." said Capt. Sean Malinowski, who oversees Foothill Division. "They feel like they're being taken care of, which also helps us get better information on when and where crime is happening. I think it's a combination of the policing efforts and the relationships."

The drop parallels an overall drop across the region and the city as a whole. The number of homicides last year in Los Angeles was the lowest on record in nearly 60 years, and the San Fernando Valley showed one of the largest drops -- more than 40 percent in some areas.

Copyright 2014 - Daily News, Los Angeles

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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