Los Angeles saw dramatic shifts in crime statistics for 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The year was “not easy,” Capt. Paul Vernon, head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Compstat division, which tracked the city’s crime data, told the LA Times. Crime went “absolutely haywire,” he said.
Killings, shootings, and car robberies surged, while robberies, rapes, and lesser property crimes fell last year, LA Times reported.
Homicides reached a decade high after years of sustained decline, while shootings rose by approximately 40%. On the other hand, robberies drooped by 17%, and known rapes fell 25%.
Of the country’s largest cities, New York, Los Angeles and Houston all saw homicide increases of 30% or higher — with Chicago seeing an increase of 55% — compared to the same time last year. https://t.co/R833qQNYbN pic.twitter.com/6pmlGnKaHg— CNN (@CNN) January 2, 2021
“You can only make inferences [based on] what’s happening and what’s not happening,” Vernon, who plotted major crime shifts along a timeline of significant 2020 events to make sense of the information, told the newspaper.
One thing the data made clear, according to the LA Times, was that everything changed in March, proving COVID-19 was an essential factor that determined last year’s numbers.
From January to February 2020, gun violence was slightly above the numbers for the first two months of 2019, while other sorts of crime remained comparatively flat.
Once California issued its lockdown orders, the numbers “radically” shifted, the LA Times reported.
As businesses closed down and people stayed home, property crime began falling. Street robberies declined as people were “no longer out on the street to be walking targets,” Vernon told the outlet. Assaults, including sexual assaults, dropped, and other violent offenses seemed to diminish.
As Summer approached, shootings and killings began rising quickly, increasing as months passed by. The trend has mostly persisted ever since, with a brief September lull, according to the LA Times.
Los Angeles, for the first time since 2009, exceeded 300 homicides in a single year. In December, a single week witnessed 14 killings and 45 shooting victims, whereas the same week in 2019 saw only four homicides and 17 shootings.
A Friday morning unofficial tally by the LA Times set the number of 2020 homicides to 349 — a growth of nearly 38% and roughly 100 victims from 2019.
Cops have blamed gang violence for being an essential factor behind the increased shootings in 2020. They warned City Council members against stripping resources from Police through budget cuts and cop layoffs. (RELATED: Los Angeles Police Department Will Stop Responding To Traffic Collisions, Downsize Homicide Unit Amid Crime Surge)
“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.
Police critics say that cure to the tide of violence lies in increasing funding for social services that assist the poor, homeless, addicts, and the mentally ill. They say the funding should be drawn out of the LAPD’s multibillion-dollar budget, the LA Times reported.