Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — With violent crime and shootings increasing in Los Angeles over the last year, Police Chief Michel Moore reported March 9 that last week saw a reduction in shooting violence compared to the previous week, and there were no instances of shootings during robberies.
Moore did not provide specific numbers during the weekly Police Commission meeting, but said shooting violence was lower than the previous week and robberies were lower than the same week in 2020 for all areas except the Hollywood area, which had an increase in street robberies and aggravated assaults.
Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told the commission that 18 robbery victims had been shot in L.A., compared to one during the same period the previous year.
“Yesterday I was briefed by Chief Girmala and by our CompStat personnel, where we’ve seen street robberies increased primarily on the east side of Hollywood Boulevard towards the Western area,” Moore said. “These are primarily strong armed robberies and these are occurring generally in the late afternoon, early evening hours.”
He noted that the LAPD’s Hollywood division shifted personnel to give extra resources to the area and increase public outreach to raise awareness about staying vigilant.
“I’m also pleased to announce that … of the 23 street robberies, they’ve had eight arrests, which tells me their investigations, their response, their canvassing, their pursuit of those people responsible for these instances is strong,” Moore said.
“We’re also asking the public to be mindful of their surroundings and recognize that there are people who are preying upon them, whether it be on transit or on the street, and that they have a role in prevention of this.”
In the first two months of 2021, Los Angeles Police Department officers fielded 570 reports of shots fired, up 88% from the 303 incidents during same time frame in 2020 — and 267 people were hit by gunfire, a 141% increase from the 111 people wounded in the time frame in 2020.
Homicides in Los Angeles are also up, according to Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization based out of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, in partnership with the Integrated Media Systems Center at the Viterbi School of Engineering. It covers the neighborhoods of Los Angeles through data.
Through Feb. 27 of this year, 64 people had been killed in the city, an increase of 39% from the 46 homicides at the same time last year, Crosstown reported.
“We continue to struggle with homicides and shooting violence,” Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission last month, adding, “We have a concern about the level of violence that is still ahead of last year.”
The shootings come as the city has experienced a nearly 26% drop in overall crime during the first two months of the year. But the rise in gun violence is causing concern among community members and police, especially in the South Bureau.
LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott, commanding officer of LAPD Operations-South Bureau, told the Police Commission that through Feb. 13, the bureau had recorded a 165% increase in shots fired and a 358% spike in victims shot while walking down the street or sitting in cars or homes.
“If you compare South L.A. to the rest of the city, we represent 65% of the city’s shooting victims,” Scott told the commission. “In just six weeks, we’ve had 110 victims shot compared with just 24 last year. These are numbers we haven’t seen since the late 90s or early 2000s.”
Scott said the increase is being driven by a “phenomenal number of weapons,” along with disruptions to the community due to COVID-19 and corresponding economic problems.
Community leaders are clamoring for assistance in combating the growing number of struggles, including everything from the need for food assistance, housing insecurity and violence.
Andres Ruiz, an attorney and public safety chair for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, expressed concern over the 46% rise in shots fired in the area — 19 this year, up from 13 in 2020. He said he sees the increase in crime as a call for help.
“We are living in an era where people don’t know how they are going to pay their bills, facing eviction and hunger, and individuals resort to survival tactics,” Ruiz said, stressing he was speaking for himself, and not his neighborhood council.
“We need to understand what is going on in neighborhoods to understand how to help heal the community so these issues aren’t happening,” Ruiz said.
Skipp Townsend, executive director of 2nd Call, a gang intervention nonprofit, told the Police Commission that intervention workers can facilitate meetings and allow people to discuss their grievances. He added that they also teach young people how to deal with their emotions so they don’t respond to violence with more violence.
“I believe it takes the community to save the community,” Townsend said at the Police Commission meeting. “I found that the healing process hasn’t started, but it’s hard to heal when it’s constantly occurring every day.”