Monday, December 24, 2007

Thank You

Los Angeles, CA

The City of Los Angeles is looking to have fewer than 400 homicides in 2007, the lowest number in 30 years.

We're down to 386. That's about a third the number we had in '92. Think about that for a second. In 1992 we had over 1000 murders in the city of Los Angeles. Of course that was the year of the riots where 53 people died, but still.

For the county, we're down 17%. Things are looking up all over.

So, I'd like to say thank you to the LA Police and Sheriffs, the LA Fire Department, the men and women in trauma rooms pulling bullets out of kids. The good samaritans who call 911 and don't hang up after twenty minutes, the people who call in tips that catch killers, the folks who don't give in to the violence and the gangs.

Thank you everyone for actually trying to make this a safer city. Group hug. Kumbay-fuckin'-yah.

Now let's keep the number steady for the next couple weeks, okay? Y'all can go back to killing each other in January.


Steve Allan said...

Or... America is quickly becoming a country with poor marksmanship. Perhaps all the good shooters were among the dead, they just weren't very good at dodging bullets, or unlucky with ricochet. :)

OK, so one of the possible reasons for the decline is that the population numbers of people most in danger of being murdered (people in their late teens to late 30s) are lower. There aren't as many Generation X or Generation Y people as they're were Baby Boomers. As Boomers age, their taste for crime changes and they become less vulnerable and less of a target, while younger generations start to come into their own, so to speak. The scary thing is the spike in population numbers over the past few years and the question of whether those homicide numbers will rise in twenty years.

Another factor is the improvements in medical care. They're able to save more lives they they used to - which is effecting the veterans' budget something wicked with more wounded than killed in the war. A coffin and flag is a hell of a lot cheaper than rehibilitation at Walter Reed, sad to say. One thing to look at is number of gunshot wounds or attempted murders versus the number of actual homicides over the past few years to see if there is a trend.

But that's just me being the optomistic guy that I am. As Monty Python said: "Always look on the bright side of life."

Steve Allan said...

OK, that seemed a bit harsh on the soldiers, which is not my intention. What I meant by more wounded than killed was a harsh criticism of our leaders who can taut a low number of casualties since more soldiers' lives are being saved. As for the budget for our wounded soldiers, it's pretty much sucks and stories about Walter Reed have pointed that out. So, this is just another bit of shortsightedness on behalf of the administration - and another error that seems to be shamlessly glossed over time and time again.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Oh, I get what you're talking about. Note that homicides are down. There's nothing said about murder attempts.

As you say medical care is improving. And, like earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, it's not the care so much as the rapidity of response.

I can't say because I don't have the numbers handy (I'll check Compstat numbers later) , but I would be surprised if the number of assaults has also reduced.

I also think that twenty years is a long time to wait for these numbers to come back up. I give it 5 at the most.

Already California is talking about releasing several thousand prisoners who are in for non-violent and non-sexual crimes.

Sure, maybe they're non-violent crimes, but do you think that a few years in the can isn't going to warp you just a little?

Prison can and often is a school for criminals. People pick stuff up, and when you get out with a record it's that much more difficult to get a well paying job.

Lack of money is, after all, the root of all evil.

So, I think that as more prisoners are released into the general population, we're going to see the numbers shift. I think they'll go down eventually, but for a while they'll climb back up.

I'm not sure that I agree with you on the populations. Though the population numbers of those most likely to be murdered might be lower, its where they are and their environments that I think make more of a difference.

The overwhelming percentage of homicides in Los Angeles are blacks and Latinos in poorer neighborhoods. The bulk of it gang related. We're taking about people being preyed on by, essentially, their neighbors.

This may sound stupid, but I'm not sure how else to put it. Crimes tend to cluster around the criminals, by which I mean they don't tend to drive real far to victimize people.

Though a lot of murders are gang related, there are also the domestic violence murders, the ones that come from home invasions or simple robberies.

Those victims tend to be the most vulnerable and are preyed upon because they're the most vulnerable. If you're going to go roll over some guy at an ATM, better to go after gramma with the potential for the broken hip than the guy in his twenties you might actually have to tussle with.

Okay, I think I've completely lost the thread here, so I'm going to stop.

But, yes, the numbers have a lot of different factors, and it will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next twenty years.

Steve Allan said...

I agree that once these drug offenders who received jail time rather than more rehabiliative punishments are back on the street their choices are limited and may find that the most attractive path is paved with criminal activity. Hopping up on my soapbox, I don't think reduction in crime will show any significant gains until our system treats drug usage as a disease rather than criminal activity. Jailing users only exposes them to elements that worsen their condition. Also, the legalizing of certain drugs, with appropriate oversight (The ATF could take on a couple more initials) and treatment programs, would greatly reduce criminal activity.

But that is only one solution. There are many alternative things we as a society could do to further reduce crime stats. As a few criminalogists have observed, if you wanted to create a criminal environment from scratch there is no better model than our current system.

The good news from your original post is that they are recording the reduction of homicides in actual numbers rather than percentages, which can cause a false idea of the true state of things.