As Los Angeles prepares to expand its police force with a boost in spending and plans to hire hundreds more officers, new data show that crime in the city has dropped moderately in 2023.
Through May 20, L.A. experienced a drop of more than 10% in violent crime this year compared with the same period in 2022. Property crime fell by slightly more than 1%, and arrests were up 4.4%, according to Police Department data.
By contrast, violent and property crimes both spiked in the first five months of 2022; the decline in violent crime this year brings the total for 2023 close to its 2021 level, but property crime remains significantly higher than it was two years ago.
The Police Department posted additional positive numbers in a tweet Tuesday: Hate crimes dropped nearly 6%, homicides declined more than 27%, and the number of shooting victims decreased 17%. Fatal traffic crashes, however, were up almost 7%.
Larceny arrests nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023, while arrests for homicide and motor vehicle theft declined by 19% and 27% respectively.
Los Angeles is not the only California city to report a drop in crime.
San Francisco — despite a wave of criticism after the killing of Cash App founder Bob Lee — has experienced an overall drop of nearly 7% in crime in the first five months of the year, according to police statistics. San Jose reported a drop of about 8% in violent and property crimes in the first three months of 2023.
In West Hollywood, the most serious crimes — known as Part 1 offenses, including rape, murder, grand theft and vehicle burglary — were down 9% from October to April compared with the same period in 2021 and 2022, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Armed robberies dropped 40%.
But even as Los Angeles enjoys a decline in serious crimes, Black women and girls remain at higher risk of being victims than any other demographic, according to a report by the city’s civil rights department.
Citing LAPD statistics, the report found that while Black women make up about 4.3% of the city’s population, they often account for 25% to 33% of its victims of violence.
A surge in drug use, rising crime and a growing number of drug overdose deaths in the region’s Metro trains and buses have recently prompted transit officials to look into increasing security on the massive transit system.
Tom Saggau, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers, previously told The Times that his group welcomes the efforts by Mayor Karen Bass to “rebuild the LAPD after years of neglect.”
“This staffing decline didn’t start with Mayor Bass,” Saggau said. “But we hope it ends with Mayor Bass.”
Bass’ budget outlines plans to hire 1,000 officers beginning in July, which represents a net expansion of about 400, because approximately 600 current officers are expected to resign or retire. But some critics wonder whether the department needs to expand. City data show a total of 9,059 sworn officers are employed as of May 6.
Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, who cast the council’s only vote against the budget, lamented that the city puts “a quarter of our entire budget into just one department” while other agencies struggle for funding.
“Crime is down across the board, but for some reason the LAPD asked for more money this year,” the People’s City Council, a coalition of social and climate justice groups that advocates for police abolition, tweeted.
Times staff writers David Zahniser, Libor Jany and Julia Wick contributed to this report.