A recent report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has found that psychological strain and economic hardship stemming from the coronavirus pandemic contributed to an increase in killings recorded not just in Los Angeles but across California and in cities and suburbs nationwide, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. While the city’s homicide rate was the lowest on record in 2019, it shot up 34 percent in 2020, the single largest increase in over half a decade. There were a total of 355 homicides in Los Angeles last year, compared to 256 reported in 2019, and there have been 239 so far this year.
The city also saw a 37 percent increase in the number of people shot and a 39 percent jump in the number of shootings reported through the first seven months of 2021. The LAPD has seized more than 5,300 guns in the first seven months of 2021, a 61 percent increase over the roughly 3,300 found and taken by officers through the end of July 2020. Many in law enforcement contend that the release of inmates to lessen crowding in jails and prisons because of the pandemic has encouraged them to commit more crimes. The COVID-19 crisis also made things difficult for community-based programs that perform gang intervention, violence prevention, trauma recovery and provide other aid. Black and Latino people were disproportionately impacted by the rise in homicides in Los Angeles County, with white residents 2.8 times less likely than Latino residents to be homicide victims in 2020, and 11 times less likely to be murdered than Black residents.