The brazen shooting of an 81-year-old woman in her Los Angeles home and ongoing “smash and grab” crimes at area retailers have put the city at a policing crossroads — follow progressive policies that let suspects back on the streets or beef up policing efforts.
Although some crimes are down in the L.A. area, homicides and violent crimes are surging.
The L.A. Times reported:
Homicides are up 46.7 percent compared with 2019, while shooting victims are up 51.4 percent, according to police data,” “As of the end of November, there had been 359 homicides in L.A. in 2021, compared with 355 in all of 2020. There have not been more homicides in one year since 2008, which ended with 384.
Jacqueline Avant, a well-known and beloved philanthropist and wife of musician Clarence Avant, was shot, but her husband and a security guard who were in the house at the time of the attack were unharmed, according to the New York Times:
The evidence indicates that [Aariel] Maynor acted alone in the shooting, and his motive remains under investigation, [Police] Chief Stainbrook said. Mr. Maynor has “an extensive criminal record” and was on parole, Chief Stainbrook said.
The Times reported:
However, since the start of the pandemic and more rapidly in recent months, crime has crept up in wealthier enclaves and thrust its way to the center of public discourse in L.A. — against a backdrop of COVID-19 angst, evolving political perceptions of what role police and prosecutors should play in society and, now, a holiday season upon which brick-and-mortar retailers are relying to stay afloat.
Some wonder if this could be a turning point for California, which for decades has been at the center of the movement for criminal justice reform, rolling back tough sentencing laws and reducing prison populations.
Polls in 2020 showed that California voters largely support many of these measures, and both San Francisco and Los Angeles have elected district attorneys with strong reform agendas. However, those concerned about crime and those who believe liberal policies have contributed to its rise have grown more vocal.
Dominick DeLuca, who owns the Brooklyn Projects skateboard shop on Melrose Avenue — a commercial corridor that has seen burglaries and robberies spike sharply in recent months — said he carries a gun to work and wants more police protection.
“I have never seen anything like it,” DeLuca said. “In the last two years, I have been broken into three times.”
At a press conference on Thursday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said more offenders should be locked up while awaiting legal proceedings, and they questioned pandemic-related policies that have allowed many nonviolent arrestees to be released without bail and put back on the streets again.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, whose left-wing policies on prosecution and sentencing many critics blame for the uptick in crime in the city and surrounding areas, was absent from the press conference but said through his office that he is working closely with law enforcement partners “to hold perpetrators accountable for such brazen crimes.”
Pete Nichols, the co-founder of the community group Melrose Action, said Thursday’s press conference offered few concrete solutions — one reason the Melrose retail community isn’t waiting for City Hall or the LAPD to address crime. Instead, retail operations are trying to obtain cameras that read license plates to help police identify suspects who drive through the area.
“Many local merchants and employees saw the August killing of 26-year-old Shoe Palace employee Jayren Bradford outside that store as a tipping point, Nichols said, and have been chipping in funds for the cameras,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“It is a really awful situation,” Nichols said.
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