Tuesday, December 28, 2010

L.A. Murder Rate Drops to 40 Year Low

Los Angeles is on track to end the year with fewer than 300 killings, that has not happened since 1967. As of the day after Christmas, the Los Angeles Police Department had tallied 291 homicides, reported the Los Angeles Times. The last time the city had under 300 murders it had 30 percent fewer people.

According to the Times, 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, according to the Times, 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.

A significant factor, said Columbia University Law School Professor Jeffrey Fagan, is the absence of a drug epidemic in recent years. The three distinct periods in U.S. history when homicides have spiked, he told the Times, coincide with the emergence of heroin, powder cocaine and crack cocaine, each of which gave rise to "a chaotic, violent street drug culture."

The city's total number of murders 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, according to the Times.

To read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-la-crime-20101217,0,1871598.story

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