Illustration by Shideh Ghandeharizadeh/Crosstown

Murders in Los Angeles Hit Highest Level in Over a Decade

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Note: This article first appeared on Crosstown and is shared with their permission in partnership with Los Angeleno. You can subscribe to Crosstown for crime, traffic and air quality news here.

A 36% jump in homicides defines a grim year.

Last year ended with a grim total: 350 people were killed in the City of Los Angeles, a 36% increase from 2019, according to Capt. Paul Vernon, director of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Compstat Division.

This rise in homicides is particularly concerning because it occurred when overall crime fell by 12% in 2020.

At the beginning of the year, the homicide rate appeared to follow the steady downward trend begun in 2016. But homicides jumped to 40 in July — a spike from the 27 reported during that same month in 2019 and the 22 reported in 2018 — making it the biggest month for homicides in over a decade.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore has stated that the rise in homicides is in part the result of frustration exacerbated by the pandemic. In November, in reaction to a spate of shootings, he noted that individuals may be more prone to violence after months of isolation and few job opportunities.

Though the increase in homicides in Los Angeles is alarming, it is nowhere near the levels reported in previous decades. In 1992, the year of the Rodney King riots, there were 2,589 homicides reported. Going back further, to 1980, 1,028 people were killed in Los Angeles.

With 26 reported deaths in 2020, downtown was the top neighborhood for homicides for the fourth year in a row, followed by Boyle Heights, with 20. Vermont SquareWestlake and Broadway-Manchester also reported high numbers, with 14, 13 and 12 deaths by homicide, respectively.

Read more on Crosstown.

Los Angeleno