Los Angeles-Homicide-Milestone

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore speaks during a news conference outside LAPD headquarters.

(The Center Square) – While the Los Angeles Police Department lost nearly 600 officers since 2019, the number of people who were shot increased by 40% from the previous year.

The city recorded more than 1,300 people shot, either fatally or nonfatally in 2020, an increase of nearly 40% from 2019. But in the first six months of 2021 alone, the number of people who were shot increased by 60% compared to the same time period last year.

The last time homicides were as high as they are citywide was in 2008.

The loss of nearly 600 officers since 2019 was due in part to a government hiring freeze instituted last year, and because the city chose to cut the LAPD’s budget by $150 million in response to activists’ demands to “defund the police.”

The department started 2020 with crime levels at historic lows and a sworn workforce of more than 10,000, the LAPD’s end of year report states. However, “Facing public scrutiny amidst widespread protests and demonstrations, that at times turned violent and destructive, our City leaders redirected significant funds from our Department with the commitment to reimagine public safety Citywide,” the report states. “At this same historic moment in time, we experienced a troubling double-digit spike in homicides and shooting violence. Angelenos were being victimized in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.

“With a reduced workforce of more than 350 sworn officers and 270 civilian employees and other operational cutbacks, we are faced with a daunting task,” the report states. “In the past there would be calls to ‘do more with less.’ However, the public is asking for a different philosophy that involves shifting public safety responsibilities away from our Department.”

The city increasing the LAPD’s budget this year will allow it to start hiring on July 1. It won’t be enough to restore numbers to before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 2020 COVID shutdown level, but it will be enough to replenish “staffing levels that were the result of the budget cutbacks that were implemented last year by the mayor and city council,” its chief reported last month.

In the departments’ year-end review of 2020, it states there were 28,081 violent crimes that occurred throughout Los Angeles, accounting for a decrease of 6%, compared to 2019.

Of the four types of violent crimes reported, two saw increases and two saw decreases. Homicides increased by 36% from the prior year and aggravated assaults increased by 5%. Reported rapes decreased by 43% and reported robberies decreased by 19% in 2020 compared to 2019.