Los Angeles’ Murder Rate Keeps Rising

Murders are on the rise again in Los Angeles. 2020 was already a bad year, but 2021 is shaping up to be even worse.

“Last year we closed out with a 37% increase in homicides," said LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva. This year, there’s been a 60% jump, so “you can see this trend is going in the wrong direction.”

LASD’s Twitter page notes there has been an increase in murders in all five of the county supervisors’ districts.

The situation in the City of LA is also dire. Last year, Los Angeles recorded 343 killings. It was a shocking figure — the first time the city recorded more than 300 murders in nearly a decade. But LA is on track to surpass that easily in 2021. As of Sept. 21, the city has already seen 285 homicides.

LAPD statistics tell us a few other things. Over half of murder victims were young men of color. Black people, who comprise just 9% of the population, accounted for 33% of homicides. 54.7% of victims were Hispanics, who make up 49% of the city’s population. The greatest number of homicides occurred downtown, followed by Watts, Wilmington, and Boyle Heights.

Of the 285 murders that have occurred this year, 208 were caused by firearms. Shootings — both fatal and non-fatal — are way up.

The sheriff blames criminal justice reform laws that downgraded penalties for nonviolent crimes. State measures like Prop 47 “laid the groundwork,” he argues. But this is part of a wider phenomenon. Just-released FBI statistics for 2020 show a surge in homicides nationwide, particularly in large cities.