Compton, Ca., counts 44 murders this year – more than all of last year – putting the city of 96,000 on a pace to far surpass homicide rates in the nation’s most dangerous big cities, reports the Los Angeles Times. If the trend continues, Compton could post as many homicides as it did in the early 1990s, when the city averaged nearly 80 killings a year. The new violence – much of it tied to gangs – has alarmed law enforcement officials because it comes after years of declining homicides. Nearby areas that also struggle with gang activity have seen homicide rates decline or remain steady.
Until recent months, Compton leaders had used a double-digit decline in violent crime to highlight a turnaround in their city. They are hard-pressed to explain how things could change so quickly. The Los Angeles County sheriff handles police work in Compton. Some city leaders now wonder if having their own police force would make a difference. They question why deputies have arrested suspects or issued warrants in only nine homicides this year. “They don’t have enough deputies who grew up in the city,” said Mayor Eric Perrodin, who was a gang officer for the former Compton police force.