Cuts at the Los Angeles Police Department; a bad economy; a larger population: These are all factors that have led authorities to be surprised at a new stat that has been released for the city of Los Angeles. Namely, Los Angeles is set to record the fewest number of killings since 1967, and at that time, the city’s population was about 30 percent smaller. So far there have been 291 homicides in 2010, and authorities have noted that a year with fewer than 300 killings is representative of a homicide rate that has continued to decline over the years. Also, in other cities in the county, as well as unincorporated parts, there has been a 40 percent decline in homicides. Overall, the city of Los Angeles has experienced a drop of about one-third since 2007. The LA Times reports:
“The city's total translates into roughly 7.5 killings per 100,000 people and puts it in league with New York City and Phoenix as having among the lowest homicide rates among major U.S. cities. ‘I never thought we'd see these numbers,’ said Sal LaBarbera, a veteran homicide detective with the LAPD. ‘It is night and day compared to the old days. Night and day.’ Longer-term declines are even more notable. The city's homicide rate this year marks a 75% drop from 1992, when 1,092 people were killed during a crack cocaine epidemic and gang wars. Homicides investigated by the Sheriff's Department have dropped by more than half since the mid-1990s. The change, experts say, is not easily explained and is probably the result of several factors working together, including effective crime-fighting strategies, strict sentencing laws that have greatly increased the number of people in prison, demographic shifts and sociological influences.”
Some experts believe that the absence of a violent drug culture is a predominant reason for the decrease in murders. Will the homicide rate continue to drop? Authorities certainly hope so and have pointed to the 300-mark as an important but somewhat arbitrary milestone. For more on the drop, see here.