Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore spoke Monday about an increase in homicides and shootings in Los Angeles in 2020, as well as reforms the police department has implemented and ways the city is working to address crime in the new year.
While overall crime decreased by 9% — including property crime by 11.1%, violent crime by 3% and robberies by 17% — homicides increased by 36.2% and victims shot by 41.4%, Garcetti said.
He noted that the increase is similar to other U.S. cities, including Chicago, which had a 50% increase in homicides and New York City, which had an increase of 40%.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore elaborated on the crime statistics.
Among the increases were street gang violence, with 55% of homicides being identified as gang-related. There was also a 42% year-over-year increase in gang homicides, Moore said.
He also said that in 2020, 65 people experiencing homelessness were murdered, 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,” Moore said.
The LAPD also saw a 35% increase in arrests of people carrying guns. While vehicles stopped decreased by 27%, the number of guns recovered rose by 57% in 2020. Moore said this, to him, seems like the result of the efforts of LAPD officers to be more surgical and precise in their work, as well as an increase in firearms in Los Angeles.
Moore noted that an increase in firearms on the streets, a sense of hopelessness and isolation among people amid the pandemic, and the pandemic’s impacts on the justice system has made it more difficult for the police department to have an impact in the increases in homicide.
“Nobody knows for sure why this is happening,” Garcetti said regarding the increase in homicides.
He did emphasize that no matter why it is happening, there are tested ways and world-leading partners the department will continue to work with to bring the numbers down using new models of constitutional policing and “making sure that technology and policies and a culture all come together to ensure that people are safe and safe equally.”
The intervention programs include the Therapeutic Transportation Pilot, which will dispatch mental health workers to some 911 calls; Community Safety Partnership (CSP), which allows officers to become familiar with the neighborhoods they work in and the people who live there; and the Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) 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,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti also noted that the city expanded its GRYD program to address a rise in crime, and 40 additional “peacemakers” have been put on the streets. He said the programs are successful because they are “rooted in trust” and emphasize that all Angelenos are responsible for public safety.
The GRYD zones saw a 9% decrease in gang-related violent crime in 2020 compared to 2019, Garcetti said. Moore noted that the 10 neighborhoods that have the Community Safety Partnership program had a 7% reduction in violent crime and fewer arrests in 2020. He noted “increased trust between our people and the neighborhoods they are serving.”
The city also saw a decrease in the number of times an officer fatally shot someone. Seven people were fatally shot by the LAPD in 2020, compared to 12 in 2019. The highest number of people fatally shot by an officer was 115 in 1990.
Garcetti noted that the city has been working to lead the nation through implementing civilian oversight, body-worn cameras and the release of the videos, implicit bias training and other reforms.
According to William Briggs, vice president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, 2020 police reforms included:
— 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.
“I understand that as a result of the death of George Floyd, the police commission made a significant promise to the community and to all citizens of Los Angeles, and that was they wanted to work to heal the wounds of our community by reimagining a more socially just and thoughtful future for policing,” said Briggs, who was nominated by Garcetti to serve on the commission in November.
Moore said that moving into 2021, the department will work to reduce gun violence through community engagement. It will also work with the District Attorney to hold people who commit violence accountable, as well as the people who provide them with guns.
“Additionally, delivering 21st Century policing and building trust also requires the relentless pursuit of further reforms that Commissioner Briggs identified,” Moore said.