As Crime Rises, Arrests are Plummeting. Why?
Arrests in the City of Los Angeles have been falling precipitously since 2013, according to statistics from the Los Angeles Police Department. From 2013 to 2015, they dropped by 25 percent. Figures from L.A. County and San Diego show a similar trend.
On its face, the numbers seem like good news, until you consider the correlating crime stats.
In Los Angeles, the drop in arrests comes amid a persistent increase in crime, which began in 2014. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck noted that arrests for the most serious crimes have risen along with the numbers of those offenses, while the decrease comes largely from narcotics arrests.
The arrest data include both felonies and misdemeanors — crimes ranging from homicide to disorderly conduct. From 2010 to 2015, felony arrests made by Los Angeles police officers were down 29% and misdemeanor arrests were down 32%.
Two other measures of police productivity, citations and field interviews, have also declined significantly.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who sits on the Public Safety Committee, says he wants an explanation.
“Those are dramatic numbers that definitely demand scrutiny and explanation,” he noted. “If crime was dramatically down, I wouldn’t have a problem with arrests going down. But if crime is going up, I want to see arrests going up.”
If police aren’t making fewer arrests because of less crime, what accounts for the drop in apprehensions? Theories abound, ranging from new deployment strategies to increased national scrutiny of police officers and a number of statewide justice reform measures that are perceived as going ‘soft’ on criminals. As a result of these measures, many cops feel that certain arrests just aren’t worth the time and effort anymore.
Figures for 2016 aren’t yet available, but preliminary numbers seem to suggest a continuance of the trend. Violent crime in L.A. increased for the third straight year in 2016, while property crimes jumped for the second year in a row. Still, Assistant Chief Michel Moore said arrests appeared to be down.
Read more about the troubling phenomenon here.