After seeing crime decrease for many years in California, violent crime rates are on the rise in 2015. In fact, the city of Los Angeles reported an overall 12.7% increase in crime with violent crime seeing a 20% increase so far in 2015.1
Possible Causes of Crime Rate Spike
Possible contributing factors leading to increasing crime are a higher prevalence of gang participation in crime, the trickle down effects of Proposition 47, as well as rising drug use and homelessness.
Proposition 47 was a recent legislative initiative where non-violent dug offenders were released from prison early in exchange for rehabilitation and probation. City officials suggest we could be experiencing the side effects of having an influx of ex-convicts now free who are turning back to crime. Criminologist Peter Moskos explains that though it is possible that these individuals maybe partially responsible for a rise in property crime, it is unlikely that Prop 47 releasees are attributable to violent crime, and in either case, it is too early to tell.2
Police Misclassification of Crime
Statistics never lie, but depending on what is reported, the truth of numbers can be seriously misleading. For example, according to one article, the Los Angeles Police Department misclassified 1,200 incidents of felony assault as misdemeanors in 2014, which made it mistakenly appear as if violent crime was declining.3 This blunder alone may explain a significant portion of the rising crime statistics.
Proactive and Preventative Measure by LAPD
The LAPD has deployed a new task force in order to confront this increase in criminal activity.4 It is unclear whether police have reallocated funds to this end or have received additional funding from the city.
LAPD hopes to identify targets areas where crime is most likely to occur. The idea is that by increasing police presence in these areas, officers may be able to deter more crime.
With tensions between police and the lower-income communities of Los Angeles historically high and arguably higher with regular media attention of police brutality nationwide, the city should be aware and maintain their professionalism at all times. Otherwise, LA’s decision to increase police presence could have an undesirable effect.
Crimes of Desperation
City officials point to drug use, the economy, Proposition 47 and the homeless population, but all of these societal ills are serious side effects of poverty. Homelessness in Los Angeles has increased by 16% in the last decade and is expected to continue to increase.
Many could be turning to crime because it seems like their only option. Those recently released from custody may not have anywhere to live or any means of learning a skill, or have opportunities to use their skills to benefit society. Instead of adding to the police budget by pouring money into the criminal justice system, maybe LA needs to invest in their communities, especially that ones that need help the most.
Do You Have Something to Say about Rising Crime Rates?
We want to hear from you about this issue. What do you think are potential causes of this recent crime wave? What can we do as responsible citizens of the community to fix it? Please share your comments on the matter in the comments section below.