LA murders are down, but homeless homicide victims increased

Nation & World News
Michel Moore

FILE – In this Aug. 6, 2019 file photo Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore talks during a news conference at LAPD headquarters in Los Angeles. Moore said Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, at a news conference that in half of 2019’s homeless homicide cases, the perpetrator was someone also believed to be experiencing homeless. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even as murders in Los Angeles have decreased in recent years, the number of homeless homicide victims has gone up, authorities said.

Overall, homicides in the city dipped from 260 in 2018 to 253 in 2019, city officials announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, the number of homeless people who were murdered rose from 40 to 42 from 2018 to 2019.

NPR first reported the trend in Los Angeles homeless homicide victims last month.

The city’s homeless population rose 16% to 36,300 between 2018 and 2019, according to the most recent count.

Los Angeles Police ChiefMichelMoore said Wednesday at a news conference that in half of 2019’s homeless homicide cases, the perpetrator was someone also believed to be experiencing homelessness.

The chief said the department works with other city agencies to get homeless people access to shelters and other resources to get them off the streets. Combating homelessness has been one of Moore’s priorities in his tenure. He has said law enforcement and arrests are not the solution.

It’s not clear if this is the city’s highest number of homeless murder victims. Los Angeles Police Capt. Gisselle Espinoza said in an email the department only recently started categorizing specific homeless crimes.

Moore and other city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, touted other 2019 crime reductions Wednesday. Citywide violent crime is down 5.5%, and property crime dipped 7.4%.

In the coming year, authorities said they want to focus additional efforts on recruiting a diverse pool of candidates to reflect the city’s population, modernizing technology to free up officers for non-administrative duties and expanding accountability within the department.

Moore also said he expects an update this week regarding an investigation into members of an elite crime suppression team who allegedly falsified records and listed innocent people as gang members. Of the 20 officers who are under review, 10 have been suspended.

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