Violent Crime in Los Angeles Spiked in 2020

Los Angeles saw a shift in crime crime patterns for 2020 on account of the pandemic. Capt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department described the city’s crime as “absolutely haywire.” Homicides, shootings and car thefts spiked, however robberies, rapes and lesser property crimes fell last year.

The shifts were dramatic, with homicides reaching a decade high after years of sustained reductions, and shootings increasing nearly 40%. Meanwhile, robberies dropped by 17%, and reported rapes fell 25%.

“You can only make inferences [based on] what’s happening and what’s not happening,” said Vernon.

Everything changed in March, proving COVID-19, which has kept many businesses closed and many people at home, was a major factor that determined the significant changes, according to the report.

Through January and February 2020, gun violence was slightly elevated over the first two months of 2019 while other crime was relatively flat.  But after the state issued its shutdown order, crime patterns “radically” shifted.

Suddenly, property crime began dropping as businesses closed down and people stayed home. Street robberies fell as people were “no longer out on the street to be walking targets,” Vernon said. Assaults, including sexual assaults, declined, and other violent crime appeared to decrease as well.

Shootings and homicides began to significantly increase and intensified throughout the summer as the weather began to warm, and have largely continued ever since, with a brief September lull, according to the LA Times.

In late November, Los Angeles exceeded 300 homicides in a single calendar year, for the first time since 2009. One week in December saw 14 homicides and 45 shooting victims, compared to four homicides and 17 shootings in the same week in 2019.

By Friday morning, an unofficial tally of 2020 homicides calculated by the LA Times, stood at 349 — an increase of nearly 38%, and almost 100 victims, from the previous year.

Police officials pointed to gang violence as being an essential factor behind the increased shootings in 2020. They warned City Council members and other officials of what may come if they continue to lay off police officers and strip resources from Police through budget cuts.

“I cannot say enough that cops count, police matter, the presence of our officers in communities makes a difference,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore told LA times.

However, critics of the police say what is needed to reduce the growing violence is not more officers but more funding for social services for the poor, the homeless and those suffering from mental illness and addiction. They argue shifting resources to services that pull people out of poverty and provide them with income and housing would do far more toward lowering crime than more police on the streets, the LA Times reported.

California and Los Angeles residents have in recent polling showed a similar desire to see some LAPD funding redirected to social services, according to the LA Times.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Getty Images

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