LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — While overall crime in the city of Los Angeles has decreased, homicides and shootings have spiked dramatically, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.
According to Garcetti, overall crime has decreased by 9% — including property crime by 11.1%, violent crime by 3% and robberies by 17% — but homicides have increased by 36.2% and the number of victims shot by 41.4%.
The mayor noted that the increases were similar to increases reported in other U.S. cities, including Chicago and New York City — which saw a 50% and 40% increase, respectively.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore elaborated on the statistics, stating that some of the increase was due in part to street-gang violence, with 55% of homicides being identified as gang-related. He also said there was a 42% year-over-year increase in gang homicides.
As for the victims of these crimes, Moore said 65 people experiencing homelessness were killed in 2020 compared to 41 in 2019.
"This represents a 58% increase with just over one in five homicide victims in 2020 being a person experiencing homelessness," he said.
LAPD also reported a 35% increase in arrests of people carrying guns. And, despite vehicle stops decreasing by 27%, the number of guns recovered rose by 57% in 2020. Moore said the numbers seemed to be the result of officers being more precise in their work as well as an increase in firearms in Los Angeles.
Moore said that the increase in firearms on the streets, a sense of hopelessness and isolation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders and the challenges facing the justice system due to COVID-19 have made it difficult for his department to have an impact on the increase in homicides.
"Nobody knows for sure why this is happening," Garcetti said about the increase in homicides, though he said the department would continue to work to bring the numbers down using new models of policing and "making sure that technology and policies and a culture all come together to ensure that people are safe and safe equally."
Garcetti said the city would continue to expand intervention programs including the Therapeutic Transportation Pilot, the Community Safety Partnership and the Gang Reduction and Youth Development program.
"A five year study of two CSP zones conducted by UCLA researchers found that more than 220 violent crimes were prevented ... and the success is the reason that we've expanded CSP to a bureau, to six new sites during my time in office, including the San Fernando Gardens last year," he said.
Garcetti said the GRYD zones saw a 9% decrease in gang-related violent crime in 2020 compared to 2019, and Moore said the 10 neighborhoods that have the CSP program had a 7% reduction in violent crime and fewer arrests in 2020.
The city also saw a decrease in the number of times an officer fatally shot someone. In 2020, seven people were fatally shot by LAPD officers compared to 12 in 2019 — down considerably from the 115 fatally shot by LAPD officers in 1990.
According to William Briggs, vice president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, the department in 2020 enacted a number of reforms, including:
- banning the carotid restraint chokehold in training and practice;
- developing and implementing revised protocols for in-custody deaths;
- permanently discontinuing the use of the CalGang database;
- revising the LAPD's use-of-force policy to now require officers who intentionally point their weapon at someone to report it; and
- requiring officers to report and intervene if other officers use unnecessary force.
Moore said that the department would work this year to reduce gun violence through community engagement and would also seek to hold those to commit violence accountable in cooperation with the district attorney's office.
Also on Monday, City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the owners of an apartment building in South Los Angeles, alleging the owners enabled criminal activity at the building by failing to implement security measures — such as proper lighting and cameras — to improve safety in the neighborhood.
One of the owners of the building said he has a story to tell as well, but was not ready to speak publicly until after he consulted with an attorney.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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