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HOMICIDE RATE IN L.A. REACHES A 20-YEAR LOW

The homicide rate in Los Angeles has reached a 20-year low, with fewer than 600 homicides reported so far in 1997, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the Police Department.

The figures showed that as of Dec. 14, 566 people had been slain in Los Angeles, an average of 1.6 killings a day, compared with 707, or just over 1.9 killings a day, in 1996.

The last year that there were fewer than 600 homicides was 1977, when 574 people were slain. Since then, the population of Los Angeles has grown by 700,000, making it the nation's second-largest city, with about 3.5 million residents.

The city's homicide rate has steadily declined since 1992, when it peaked at a record 1,092 homicides, the figures showed.

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