The City of Los Angeles is seeing crime drop to its lowest level in more than 50 years as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has reached its largest deployment in history, city and police officials said.

Approaching their goal of having 10,000 LAPD officers, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief William Bratton announced that the department has expanded to its highest deployment of 9,895 officers. The announcement came one day before the March 3rd municipal election, in which Villaraigosa won re-election.

“Over the past four years, we have implemented the most aggressive, efficient and progressive police hiring plan in the nation,” said Villaraigosa. “And that investment is paying dividends for

every household in our city.”

As a result of the city’s police recruitment strategy, the LAPD will surpass its previous largest officer deployment of 9,852 in June 1998, Villaraigosa said.

City officials have called Los Angeles one of the most under-policed big cities in the nation, but while most big cities continue cutting police budgets, officials said Los Angeles has expanded its police force by over 700 officers. The city remains on track to reach 10,000 officers by the end of the year, officials noted.

“When I came to the department in 2002, one of my primary concerns was the size of our police force at 9,034 officers,” said Bratton. “Today, as I see our numbers increasing and closing in on my long-term goal of reaching 10,000 officers, I can assure you that achieving this milestone has been and will continue to be a key element in our ongoing success at reducing crime in the City of Los Angeles to historic lows.”

Bratton said the high deployment is a result of the coordinated efforts of the LAPD Recruitment and Employment Division and the city Personnel Department’s Public Safety Bureau.

The mayor said he has worked with the City Council to maintain the 1,000-officer expansion as a

top budgetary priority. Since the city’s police build-up was initiated, the citywide crime rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1956, officials noted. The total number of homicides has also fallen to a 38-year low and gang homicides decreased more than 24 percent last year, according to LAPD.

While the LAPD has expanded its overall deployment, Bratton announced late last year that a number of officers have been re-assigned from stations throughout the city, including the Pacific division, to help staff new stations in the West Valley and Koreatown. The shifting of officers has concerned residents in the Pacific and West Los Angeles areas who argued that police were removed because those communities have less crime than other parts of the city.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has also noted that while his 11th District may not experience as much violent crime as other areas, the district still has its share of serious crimes.

“I have stood by the mayor, as I have with the chief, to say that we don’t have enough police officers to patrol our city,” Rosendahl said.

The councilman has concerns with the district losing officers to other parts of the city, but said he will push to get officers back as the police force continues to expand. Bratton has said the shifting of patrols does not target any specific community and is being shared throughout the city.