At a press conference this morning, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck went over L.A.’s 2014 crime report touching on the “achievements of 2014 and the vision for 2015.″ In 2014, violent crime—a category which includes homicide and robbery, rape, and aggravated assault—went up by 14.3 percent, with a 28.3 percent rise in aggravated assault and a nearly 21 percent climb in rape. It was the first time in 12 years that there has been an increase. Oh, and violent crime in downtown L.A. alone jumped 25 percent. But it’s not all hellfire and brimstone: L.A.’s overall crime rate dropped by 1.6 percent! (It’s the little things.)
The mayor, who presented this morning’s data alongside Beck, is none too pleased with the surge. “…Public safety is my number one priority, so to see anything go up, obviously is not direction I ever want to see,” he said. “Violent crime is up — we own that. Just as in other years when it’s down, we own that too.”
Beck ascribed the jump to three things: a particularly sharp rise in domestic violence, street attacks induced by alcohol, and the way in which the LAPD classifies crimes. In December of 2013, the Los Angeles Times released a report asserting that the LAPD had misclassified over 1,000 counts of aggravated assault (incidents that include the use of a weapon or cause serious injury) as minor incidents. Poor record keeping of this ilk might not sound egregious, but consider this: The proper documentation of crimes determines the aforementioned crime report, which the LAPD uses to illustrate the difference they’re making in decreasing citywide crime. That report then determines how the strategies with which the force will fight crime in the future. Both the mayor and Beck indicated that data quality will be of utmost importance in the future but that they would not be cleaning up statistics from previous years.
A plan to tackle the rise in crime was also announced this morning, which includes the expansion of the city’s Domestic Abuse Response Team and a $400,000 federal grant that will be used to combat street violence in the four police divisions with the highest crime rate: Newton, Southeast, Southwest, and 77th Street.