LAPD chief predicts highest homicide rate since 2009; critics question timing

For the first time in more than a decade, homicides in the city of Los Angeles could reach a grim milestone of more than 300 by the year’s end.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michael Moore made the prediction during a virtual Police Commission meeting Tuesday. “We see the phenomenon of more guns, more people carrying guns, and then disputes escalating into gun violence.”

According to data from the LAPD, there have been 266 homicides in the city so far in 2020, compared with a total of 253 in 2019 and 260 in 2018. The last time the number topped 300 was in 2009, when there were 312 homicides in LA.

Some activists like Black Lives Matter LA Co-founder Melina Abdullah believe that the numbers would greatly decrease if funds were directed away from police, and that the uptick in violence make their call to defund all the more compelling. 

“What we need is good jobs - what we need is healthcare, what we need is housing - we have to fundamentally reimagine public safety - that means investing on the front end, not overspending on police,” Abdullah said. “Police need to confine themselves to policing, and if they would do that, then we’d have more resources for the things that would actually create safe communities.”

The increase in violence comes as budget cuts have reduced the number of sworn officers in the department, which retired LAPD detective Moses Castillo believes discourages officers. “It sends the message to the rank and file - to the men and women who put on that uniform every day and risk their lives every day to serve the public - that we just don’t care about you, and we’re going to give into these groups that hate the police,” he said, adding that some have lost motivation.

“It’s just not worth the risk - number one, we’re not being appreciated, number two, our leaders don’t back us up, and number three, we’re getting crucified by the public any misstep we take.”

Abdullah said that the timing of the prediction speaks to a larger issue. “I think that there’s a reason that LAPD is putting out this idea or these statistics that violent crime is increasing in Los Angeles - because what they’re doing is making a play for a share of the city’s budget when city funds are so tight.”