LOS ANGELES — County Sheriff Alex Villanueva shared crime stats that show an across-the-board increase in most categories and stated his department will release the names of deputies who shoot civilians within 30 days of the incident during his weekly talk to the public May 19.
The move to release the names came after the county’s Board of Supervisors directed the county counsel to draft an ordinance requiring the release of deputy’s identities within 48 hours of a deputy-involved shooting.
“As a parent, to not be given the respect of not just knowing the name of the person who ended your child’s life … it just seems reasonable to know the name,” said county Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who proposed the ordinance.
Mitchell did not comment on the recent crime stats that have come while the Board of Supervisors is in the process of reducing the Sheriff’s Department budget.
Villanueva went down the latest crime statistics.
“95% increase in homicides, 10% increase in rape, 15% increase in aggravated assault, 45% increase in grand theft auto, 18% increase in arson,” he said. “Under normal circumstances these numbers would have an elected official quaking in their boots and afraid. There would be an all hands-on deck moment.”
Villanueva said that when the Board of Supervisors met May 18 to discuss the budget there was no mention of the rise in crime.
The Los Angeles City Council also is grappling with crime increases, with shootings up 73% during the first four months of 2021, according to LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
Gang-related homicides have increased by 44% and represent just under half of shooting victims this year, and the city has experienced a 41% increase in victims shot in gang-related shootings.
Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said he believes the rise in crime gives more leeway to law enforcement to conduct “pre-textual” stops which are legal yet controversial.
“It is stop and frisk in a car,” Harris-Dawson said. “They take an area, they decide that area has a lot of shooting back and forth, they stop everybody they look in the car for guns.”
“I think it actually increases the urgency of the reimagining,” said Harris-Dawson, who has supported a plan to have unarmed units respond to mental health crises modeled on a program in Oregon, and sponsored a study to remove the police from routine traffic stops.
“Because what reimagining policing says, OK if there are people shooting each other and there are people having mental health crises, what one should the police be doing? Right now, they do both,” Harris-Dawson said.
News reports suggest that leaked emails show that the LAPD is in early discussions with user based crime app, Citizen, which seeks to provide community support to users who report incidents through their technology.
Citizen has been actively testing the program, with what the company describes as quick response times and instant communication between Citizen and security partners, according to the emails.
One of those companies, according to the emails, is well-known private security contractor Securitas, which employs both armed and unarmed licensed guards that have been cleared by the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.
Despite Harris-Dawson’s position on reimagining the city’s police department, he voted unanimously with his colleagues to increase the budget for the police department by 3% to restore positions lost during the pandemic.
In the city of Compton, crime is also up.
The Sheriff’s Department publishes monthly crime stats that show an increase in murders and according to the city’s former mayor, the city is on track to have a record number of murders in 2021.
As of May 12, the city had recorded 22 murders in 2021.
“The shooting in Compton on Mother’s Day, in broad daylight,” said a former mayor in a social media posting. “The mayor can’t stop the shootings but has a responsibility to address it.”
Compton Mayor Aja Brown’s approach is to hold regular community prayer meetings, which she described as “powerful.”
Compton is also grappling with a battle with the Sheriff’s Department over allegations of “minutes fraud” that a whistleblower claims leads to a decrease in patrols to suppress crime.
Crime is up in most major metropolitan U.S. cities, with most departments attributing the crime increase to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in massive job losses and housing insecurity for millions of residents.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at email@example.com.