For the first time in 12 years, violent crime in Los Angeles has climbed to a stunningly high rate, driven by an increase in reported aggravated assaults.
Crimes in the four categories that account for Los Angeles’s violence are robberies, homicides, rapes, and aggravated assaults.
According to the Los Angeles Times, while the percentage of robberies and homicides saw a slight increase, rape saw a 12.4 percent spike. Aggravated assaults shot up by 24.2 percent, compared with the rate of assaults in 2013. The Times posits that the increase correlates with a gross understatement of the city’s true level of crime. The LAPD’s misclassification of nearly 1,200 serious violent crimes as being low-level offenses over the course of a one year period also plays a role. Police reportedly recorded aggravated assaults as minor incidents during that period as well, the Times notes.
This year alone, the LAPD’s statistics show that 1,900 aggravated assaults occurred in 2014 than in 2014. Over 900 incidences of domestic violence cases were also recorded. That statistic is reportedly four times the amount recorded last year.
The dramatic increases are reportedly attributed in large part to a national campaign to improve awareness about domestic violence, which allegedly emboldened more victims who were willing to come forward and report the crimes to authorities.
“Things don’t quadruple from one year to the next,” said criminology professor at Northeastern University James Alan Fox to the Times. “There is no real reason to believe that all of a sudden men and women are abusing their partners more than ever.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he does not think L.A. is any less safe than before, citing the historically-low level of homicide and shootings in the city.
“I think we have some things we have to work on. But folks have to recognize that crime cascades over time… That doesn’t mean that every year will be safer in every exact category as the year before. But the overall trend in crime in Los Angeles has just dropped dramatically,” Beck told the Times.
Some experts suggested to the Times that due to the LAPD’s recent changes to the way it classifies crimes, it probably will take several years before they can provide an accurate accounting of crime in the city.The LAPD’s year-end statistics are slated for release in mid-January.
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