Los Angeles’s Homicides, Gun Violence Down This Year, so Far, but May Be Due to Weather

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles in 2021 saw a surge in violent crime with the highest annual tally of homicides in 14 years. But two years later, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) data shows that crime may be on the downward trend so far this year.

According to the data, first reported by Crosstown—a nonprofit connected to USC’s journalism department analyzing crime data across Los Angeles neighborhoods—the city has experienced a dip in homicides and gun violence in the first two months of 2023.

But spokesperson Tom Saggau, with the Los Angeles Police Protective League —which represents the Los Angeles Police Department’s over 9,000 sworn officers—told The Epoch Times, while it’s always encouraging to see less crime, rare winter storms that swept through Southern California in January and February may be the cause.

“During the first two months of the year, it was probably the most weather challenging time that it’s been in a lot of places on record,” Saggau said. “And typically, if you live in Buffalo and there’s a snowstorm, there’s not a lot of crime going on.”

Researchers have long studied the impact of seasons on types of crimes committed.

According to a 2021 blog post by Pinkerton, a Michigan-based private security and detective company, violent crime and property crime have significant seasonal variations with more generally occurring during the warmer months.

From the start of the year through the end of February, LAPD reported 40 murders, a 31 percent decrease from the same period last year, and a 39 percent decline compared to 2021.

“We continue to see an improvement in our violent crime numbers, specifically in our shooting violence,” LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Feb. 28.

Epoch Times Photo
Los Angeles Police Department K9 officers prepare for an operation in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 2018. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The Crosstown analysis found 72 percent of homicides, thus far, this year were committed with a firearm, similar to the last two years, but cited that overall gun violence “has fallen sharply in the city.”

According to LAPD data, those injured by gunfire have been progressively declining since last September. From January through the end of February, 97 people were shot, marking five consecutive months where the number of shooting victims remained below 100.

The last time such a trend occurred was between January and May 2020, Crosstown noted.

Saggau said when looking at crime trends it is also valuable to look at data from 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, to see how current criminal activity fares when compared to a normal year.

According to another set of statistics from the LAPD through Feb. 18, crime has increased by nearly 41 percent when compared to the same time in 2019 with shootings up by almost 40 percent and victims shot, nearly 65 percent.

“Criminologists and statisticians are still trying to figure out the COVID impacts on everything, from buying power to home sales to crime, and they’re still not at a place where they’ve weeded through everything,” he said.

Some of those impacts are currently being studied.

Last month, researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California published an analysis showing the correlation between COVID-19 and arrest trends as well as crime spikes at the pandemic’s peak.

But pre-COVID versus year to date “tells a different story” on the types of crime recorded, Saggau said, and added that from January to February is not enough time to know whether crime will decrease for the rest of the year.

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