Los Angeles Homicides May Top 300 This Year, Highest Since 2009, Chief Predicts

Los Angeles Homicides May Top 300 This Year, Highest Since 2009, Chief Predicts
A police officer stands with armed members of the National Guard facing protesters in front of the Los Angeles Police Department on June 1, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Los Angeles might see more than 300 homicides by the end of the year, which would be the highest number since 2009, Police Chief Michel Moore said.

As of Oct. 17, there had been 266 homicides, an increase of 25 percent over the same period last year, Moore said during a City Commission meeting. The total number of homicides for all of 2019 was 253, while in 2018, there were 260.

The citywide homicide rate jumped 44 percent from July to September and 5.6 percent from September to this month, according to Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) crime data (pdf), which is documented on a weekly basis. The increase stands out against a 9.7 percent decrease in overall crime in the city.

The nation’s second-largest city hasn’t exceeded the 300 mark since 312 were killed in 2009.

There are similar upticks in violent crime in cities all across the country, including Houston, Chicago, and New York, Moore said. He added that a number of pandemic-related factors are probably contributing to the uptick in violent crime.

Economic struggles have increased across the city’s population amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, he said. Police services and interventions are being directly or indirectly reduced due to the pandemic, making it harder to help victims of violent crime and to prevent retaliatory violent attacks.
A report released on Oct. 19 by Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization based out of the University of Southern California, also illustrated the sharp increase in homicides in the city.

According to Crosstown, there were 239 homicides in the city between January and September 2020, compared to 199 during the year-earlier period. July had the highest monthly total in at least a decade, with 40 reported homicides, up 48 percent from June, when 27 homicides were recorded.

Retired LAPD Sgt. Curtis Woodle told Crosstown that while the COVID-19 pandemic has led to fewer people on the street, which has helped push crime down broadly, other traditional deterrents to violence have disappeared.

“With COVID having everything closed, there are fewer mediations happening for a lot of people, with no guidance, and it’s causing a lot of friction,” Woodle said.

Officers who usually work in areas where violent crime rates are high were reassigned in May and June to alternate duties due to widespread demonstrations, and some were assigned to COVID-19-related duty, Capt. Paul Vernon, who heads the LAPD’s Compstat division, told Crosstown.