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CHANGES SPEED UP L.A. COPS' RESPONSE TIME POLICE REPORT MAJOR DROP.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

Los Angeles police have responded to emergency calls much more quickly than a year ago due to changes in how it handles and categorizes calls, officials said Monday.

Police said they are now responding to emergency calls in an average of 6.7 minutes - a drop of nearly four minutes. Officers also have shaved about six minutes off the response time for nonemergency calls.

Capt. Andrew Smith of the LAPD's Communications Division credited the change to a new policy implemented earlier this year in which patrol officers respond with red lights and sirens to most emergency calls, and property crime calls were downgraded in urgency.

``We no longer respond to calls of, say, a car stripping in progress,'' Smith told the City Council's Public Safety Committee. ``We consider that a property crime. We would rather have our officers respond to crimes where someone is in danger.''

Councilman Bernard Parks, who was police chief prior to Chief William Bratton, questioned the validity of the response-time figures.

``It seems to me like you're comparing apples and oranges,'' said Parks, who is running against Mayor James Hahn next March 8 and has made public safety one of his top issues. ``If you remove a category of crimes from your top priority, you aren't getting a meaningful number.''

Smith said he agreed with Parks, but pointed out there also were drops in the response time for all other calls. His figures also show officers are responding to the less urgent calls 15 minutes quicker than a year ago.

In recategorizing certain crimes, Bratton did away with the group listed as Code 2 High, serious crimes that were not considered of extreme danger to the public.

By doing that, Smith said, it increased the number of routine calls, but also freed up officers to respond to those crimes considered the most dangerous to the public.

Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390

rick.orlov(at)dailynews.com
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Dec 7, 2004
Words:324
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