Homicides Decrease in Los Angeles, but Violent Crime Rises Again
Posted on Friday, February 23rd, 2018 at 8:18 am
According to crime statistics compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), property crimes and violent crimes increased during 2017. Yet the number of homicides and instances of gun violence decreased during that period, a development that the LAPD attributes to its computer statistics and community-focused policing strategy.
Known as COMPSTAT, the LAPD’s policing model is supposed to “put police officers back in the business of actually proactively fighting crime rather than just reacting to it,” according to the department’s website. Another cornerstone of this strategy is to hold police managers “directly accountable for combating the crime in their assigned area,” while giving them the autonomy to develop their own, local tactics.
Has a New LAPD Strategy Helped Curb the Murder Rate?
Last year’s six percent decline in the murder rate was welcome news, since the rate was on the rise during 2015 and 2016. But since 2010, murder rates across Los Angeles – and in most other parts of California – have remained generally stable according to research by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
Murder rates in LA began steadily decreasing after the 1990s, when the yearly murder rate could reach past 1,000. The decrease continued until around 2010, when the murder rate stabilized between 200 and 300 yearly victims. The number of murders has remained stable despite many reforms to the California criminal justice system and law enforcement strategies over the last seven years.
Against this backdrop, there were significant local variations in crime rates. Communities of color tended to fare worse – especially when it comes to murders. For example, blacks make up only eight percent of Los Angeles citizens, but accounted for 36 percent of its murder victims in 2017.
According to Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice research fellow Mike Males, these facts show that law and order reforms may not cause significant changes to crime rates. Instead, long term trends, as well as local or short term variations, might result from socio-economic factors and the local activities of gangs.
Property Crimes and Violent Crimes Are Still on the Rise Despite New Strategy
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stated that COMPSTAT, with its “data-driven community-focused strategies, expanding community trust, and relentless follow-up,” was partly responsible for the decrease in shootings and homicides. The LAPD now relies on data to predict where crimes might occur, and focus their resources in those areas.
But if this new policing strategy is succeeding, why have property crimes increased for three years in a row? In 2017, the LAPD recorded 95,495 property crimes – 6,007 more than in 2015. As for violent crime, it’s been increasing for four years now. There were 28,481 incidents of violent crime in 2017, versus 24,596 in 2015. Robberies and aggravated assaults led the increase – although this could be due to efforts by the LAPD to more accurately report these crimes.
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