For the sixth straight year crime rates increased in Downtown. For those who have been banging the drum of an increasingly lawless Downtown, the numbers only confirmed their perception. However the tricky thing about statistics is that they can sometimes lack nuance and context.
As Los Angeles Downtown News reported last week, crime rose again in Downtown in 2019, for the sixth year in a row, with a 4.2% increase in violent and property crimes, otherwise known as “Part 1” crimes. Data from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division, which is headquartered in Downtown, showed moderate increases in nearly every category of violent and property crimes. Overall violent crime increased by 3.2%.
The one substantial spike compared to the previous year was a rise in property theft, mostly often in the form of purse or phone snatches, according to Central Division.
People might read a headline akin to “Crime Increases Again in Downtown,” and create the perception that the Central City is slowly shifting into the Wild West. That simply isn’t the case. It is not the time to panic.
What we are seeing is the byproduct of a growing residential base and increased citywide traffic into Downtown, and both of these new groups must increasingly be aware of their changing surroundings.
That should be a rule of thumb for anyone living in a major metropolitan area. In a perfect world, the onus on not being a victim would not lay on the victim, but on the criminal, however that simply is not the reality.
As Downtown continues to evolve into a major arts, entertainment and business destination, crime is likely to follow and it’s unfortunate to read how often a crime could have been prevented if people simply paid attention to their environment.
Major transit lines terminate in the Central City and more and more people are coming into Downtown for work and the nightlife. As Central Division acknowledged, there is an increased opportunity for people to commit crime.
Now, that’s not to say that crime isn’t a serious concern. Homicides in Downtown saw a slight increase last year, from 14 to 17 last year, but that is still down from the spike of 21 homicides in 2017. Seventeen people still lost their lives needlessly, and that needs to be addressed moving forward, however, crime in Downtown is not skyrocketing with the increased opportunity, according to data. This is not something to celebrate, in fact Central Division Capt. Timothy Harrelson made it clear that he was not happy with the numbers presented, but acknowledged that the situation could be far worse.
While we don’t like to discount how impactful personal experience can be when it comes to perceptions of safety, and this page acknowledges that more work needs to be done as Downtown continues to grow, let’s not let concern give way to panic and amplify fears beyond what is actually happening.