It could be a blessing or a curse for new Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck: Rates for major crimes in Los Angeles continued to dip in 2009. With continuing joblessness, a city struggling to find money to hire officers, and a looming release of 40,000 state prisoners, the only direction for crime might be up.

The FBI this week unveiled the latest crime stats for the city, which cover the first half of the year, from January through June. Violent crime was down 10.5 percent; murder was down 28.7 percent; rape was down 5.3 percent, and robbery was down 10.7 percent.

All crimes tracked by the FBI report saw dips. The biggest losers were the aforementioned murder rate as well as vehicle thefts, down 22 percent, and arson, down 17.4 percent. Aggravated assault (-10.1 percent), property crime (-12.9 percent), burglary (-12.5 percent), and larceny-theft (-9.5 percent) were also on the down-slope.

Of course, all these decreases were realized under the leadership of Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton. For Beck, taking over with these numbers would be somewhat like taking over the coaching job at the Los Angeles Lakers after Phil Jackson's reign.

LA Weekly