LAUSD Property Crimes Drop Significantly in 2011
Los Angeles Unified School District Police Chief Steve Zipperman said better technology, more strategic deployment of officers, and a comprehensive public awareness campaign are the prime reasons for an across-the-board six percent decline in campus property crimes in 2011 compared with the previous year.
The reduction includes a nearly 15 percent decrease in instances of graffiti, and a 9.5 percent drop in burglary, from 746 cases to 675 cases. Vandalism declined slightly, from 986 incidents to 973, while theft decreased nearly one percent.
Zipperman credited the fewer number of burglaries and theft to improved alarm systems on many campuses, wide dissemination of messages urging students not to leave cell phones, backpacks and other items unattended, and targeted patrols.
“We recalibrated our deployment efforts to focus on a higher percentage of schools,” he said. According to the chief, school police deploy around 18 officers and six to eight cars during off-hours, when most property crimes occur. The entire LAUSD force has 353 sworn officers; on average, 180 of them are on duty during a 24-hour period.
Zipperman noted that many of the burglaries involve new technology equipment; Apple Mac Desktop computers and laptop computers are targeted most often on LAUSD campuses, followed by digital cameras and Elmo LCD Document Readers.
In addition to the drop in property crimes, robbery declined 20 percent, from 361 incidents in 2010 to 289 in 2011. The chief said the Safe Passages Program was a key reason for the improvement.
“We’ve done an outstanding job along with local law enforcement in having a more vigilant presence,” he said. The program, which is in effect at most LAUSD high schools, involves LAUSD police and either Los Angeles Police Department or Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on patrol around the exterior of a particular campus both an hour before classes begin and an hour after school is out for the day.
Excluding the cases of sexual misconduct, Zipperman said so far in 2012 he sees no disturbing trends regarding specific categories of criminal offenses, although he did express some concern about off-campus parties where drinking is involved.
“Our goal is to see a continued decline in crimes,” he said.
Photo caption: Los Angeles School Police Chief Steve Zipperman.
By: Tom Waldman
Posted: April 2, 2012