Murders Down In L.A. County; An Economic Influence?


Homicides fell 6 percent in Los Angeles County in 2006, from 1,153 to 1,085, says the Los Angeles Times. By contrast, the Los Angeles Police Department reported only a 2.4 percent decrease in homicides, a smaller drop than previously reported due to an end-of-the-year killing surge. Over the last five years, there has been no clear homicide trend in Los Angeles County. The mixed picture suggests that economic conditions and policing tactics influence homicide, said criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. A early-1990s recession corresponded with high homicide counts, while an economic boom in the late 1990s were accompanied by a sharp fall in murders. Since then, volatile, mixed economic conditions have corresponded with mixed homicide trends.

Though small, the city of Los Angeles’ drop follows larger decreases in 2003 and 2005. The city total for 2006 was 176 homicides fewer than in 2002, when Police Chief William Bratton was appointed. Bratton still has not achieved the homicide lows of his predecessor, Bernard Parks. Under Parks, homicides dropped to their smallest number in decades, hitting just 419 in 1999. The low numbers tracked the national trend.


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