LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homicides in the nation’s most populous county have decreased by more than 20 percent compared to last year, sheriff’s officials said Thursday.

Total violent crime in Los Angeles County also dropped by nearly 5 percent, with reductions in nearly every major crime category, including reported rapes, robberies and assaults, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said. The numbers represent nearly 3,600 fewer violent and property crimes reported to sheriff’s officials this year.

The number of homicides in the county with more than 10 million residents dropped from 210 killings in 2016 to 167 this year.

Investigators attribute the drop to a “significant reduction in deadly gang violence throughout the county,” McDonnell said. Gang-related murders dropped from 137 to 100 — a 27 percent reduction — in 2017 and gang shootings plunged by 40 percent.

“Part of this is through strong enforcement activity,” McDonnell said. “We’re constantly triaging what’s happening throughout the county in an effort to be able to use the resources we have to address the problems at hand.”

McDonnell said there was about a 19 percent increase in reports of felony sex crimes compared to the year before, but he attributed the increase to a more aggressive approach to sex trafficking. More than 500 people were arrested by the department’s human trafficking bureau.

In the city of Los Angeles, statistics show police had reported 271 homicides this year, as of Dec. 16, compared to 289 in 2016.

Police in other major U.S. citifies have also touted a reduction in homicides this year.

New York City police had recorded 278 killings through Dec. 17, down 14 percent from last year. In Chicago, police said there was a 14 percent drop in homicides this year compared to 2016.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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