Tess prepares to confront a zombie at the LAX Firing Range in Los Angeles.
Tess prepares to confront a zombie at the LAX Firing Range in Los Angeles. - 
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Tess Vigeland: The violent crime rate in this country dropped for the fifth year in a row last year, according to the FBI. But we are still paying a steep price in its aftermath. Aside from the obvious physical and emotional toll crime takes on its victims, medical care in assault cases costs more than $4 billion a year and locking up criminals costs $74 billion annually, so says a study by the Center for American Progress.

There is a cost to keeping yourself safe. It varies, of course, depending on what you feel is necessary to secure yourself and your property. But for an estimate of those costs, and advice on how best to deal with personal safety issues, we visited Captain Justin Eisenberg, who runs the North Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Eisenberg said there is a lot the individual can do to prevent becoming a target. He said one of the biggest reason home burglaries happen is because people get complacent. People don't turn on their alarm, because they're just going for a quick run to the grocery store or don't bother collecting their mail (a sign that perhaps no one's been home for a while). He also gives tips on how to protect your house and yourself from criminals -- including factors to consider if you want to buy a gun to protect yourself.

Tess also went to have some fun at the station, a stint in the force-option simulator room, upstairs at LAPD North Hollywood division. This is where they put officers through what training coordinator Mike Hall called "a pumped-up video game" with realistic scenarios that could face officers in the field.

Next Tess took what she learned from Captain Eisenberg and applied it in the real world...well, in a real-world shooting range anyway.

Follow Tess Vigeland at @tessvigeland