By Evan Symon, California Globe
During a Los Angeles Board of Police Commission meeting earlier this week, LAPD Chief Michel Moore revealed that violent crimes have risen exponentially in the past year, moving the city closer to San Francisco in terms of the highest crime rates in the country.
According to the LAPD, citywide robberies are up 18% compared to this time last year, and up 5% compared to 2020. City wide robberies with a firearm also went significantly up, climbing 44% from this time last year, 57% from 2020, and 60% compared to 2019. While 36% of robberies and 74% of all robberies as part of the increase from last year used a firearm, the LAPD also got into specifics, such as noting that those who wore expensive jewelry in public have been targeted more often in armed robberies.
“Over the course of this year, the Department has experienced an increase in robberies taking place in various communities in the City of Los Angeles,” the LAPD said in a press release on Tuesday. “Most concerning is that there has been an increase in the levels of violence used during these robberies and the frequency in which a firearm was used. During the Board of Police Commission meeting on March 22, 2022, Chief Moore discussed citywide robbery statistics, crime prevention techniques, situational awareness, and mitigation.”
Chief Moore also said, “Numerous arrests have been made and federal and state prosecutions are being pursued. There’s been a marked increase of armed robberies involving victims wearing expensive jewelry, as well as just other individuals whether they’re at commercial stores such as mini markets, convenience stores, gas stations, or on the street.”
While robberies, homicide, property crimes, and other types of crimes have been increasing since before the pandemic in Los Angeles, the rates are still nowhere near where they were in the 1990s. Crime in LA is also behind other high crime cities such as Detroit, New Orleans, and Baltimore, as well as San Francisco, which has seen a huge crime wave has been occurring since the late 2010s.
Multiple factors are cited as the reason for the uptick in crimes ranging from cuts made to the LAPD following the George Floyd incident in 2020 to ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the largest cited factor has been LA County DA George Gascon. Since being elected in 2020, Gascon has instituted several “criminal justice reforms,” including ending policies that had juveniles tried as adults, many crimes being reduced to misdemeanors or having jail time reduced, and the removal of cash bail for most crimes despite California voters voting to keep it in 2020 in Prop 25.
LA crime rates up compared to previous years
With crime rates on the upswing since his election, Gascon has faced increasing heat for his policy actions. In January, a petition to recall Gascon was approved by the County, with supporters needing 566,957 signatures by July 6th to put his recall election on the ballot, likely to occur during the general election in November. As of mid-March, Recall DA George Gascon has received roughly 125,000 signatures and is currently on track to get enough to put him on the ballot. A similar effort in San Francisco to recall DA Chesa Boudin for similar crime policy reasons succeeded last fall, with polls showing that the Boudin recall is to likely succeed with 68% of San Francisco voters currently for the recall less than 3 months out of the June election.
With crime remaining high in LA, many experts note that the new statistics would be major factors for many races, including upcoming Assembly, City Council, Mayoral, and other local and city decisions by voters.
“Crime this high is really going to challenge voters,” Greg Huerta, a former law enforcement official in Southern California, told the Globe on Thursday. “Older residents, they remember the riots in 1965 and 1992 and how bad crime was then. Younger people, they see how bad things have gotten recently, which has only been added to by other things like the homeless crisis. Crime always plays a part in elections. If crime is up, the person in charge suddenly has to worry about reelection. It’s also a stat that cuts right through party politics. Are you a Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, black or white? Doesn’t matter, high crime sucks for everyone. We’re out there doing our best, but if we don’t have the support or policies they made only made things worse, they’d go.”
“It’s looking like that a lot now. People always scream how liberal LA has gotten, and to an extent, they’re right, but push comes to shove, high crime will really make people think about who they will vote for. Even for one-issue people, they’ll look at everyone’s stance on crime if it is bad enough. And hey, two years ago, defunding the police was huge and candidates loved to say it. Now, funding is going right back to police and those who pushed for defunding then are now suddenly worried. You always saw it with city council people. They’d rally against police funding or whatever, then crime goes up, and then they have no one to blame the next election. That cycle, happening again now.”
Morse statistics on crime in LA and LA County are expected in the coming months.