Crime in Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Crime rates (2013)
Crime type Rate*
Forcible rape:16.0
Aggravated assault:189.
Total violent crime:408.2
Motor vehicle theft:354.7
Total property crime:2,269.1
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.

Source: Los Angeles Police Department Crime Statistics 2013

Crime in Los Angeles has varied throughout time, reaching a peak between the 1970s and 1990s.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Police Department reported that crime had declined in the city for the 10th consecutive year.[1][1] In 2013, Los Angeles reported 296 homicides in the city proper, which corresponds to a rate of 6.3 per 100,000 population—a notable decrease from 1980, when the all time homicide rate of 34.2 per 100,000 population was reported for the year.[2]

In 2015, it was revealed that the LAPD had been under-reporting crime for eight years, making the crime rate in the city appear much lower than it really is. Approximately 14,000 assaults went unreported as "minor offenses" rather than violent crimes.[3] Additionally, recent years have seen increased crime in the city.[4]

The city is patrolled by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Zoot Suit Riots

Main article: Zoot Suit Riots

A series of murders that occurred on March 18, 1936 in the Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights area. An equal rights meeting led by both illegal and legalized foreign aliens, mostly Latino and Italian, were met with force by the LAPD under the order of Frank L. Shaw. Rather than disband the rally, the LAPD brutalized them, spilling blood on the streets of Griffin, Mozart, Car, and Baldwin. Thirty-three protesters were injured, nineteen dead, five LAPD officers were recorded wounded, with one dead. While many of the deaths and injuries fell onto the equal rights protesters, there was an unnamed casualty at the time in order to cover the law-breaking of the police force. Sandra Vespucci, an Italian youth living on Baldwin street at the time, was killed by a stray bullet in front of her home. Shortly after the bloodshed, many of the officers involved were forced to resign by Mayor Shaw.

Battle of Sunset Strip (1947–1956)

During the early 1930s-late 1940s, organized crime in Los Angeles and Las Vegas was ruled by Jewish-American mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and his crime family. He even controlled the Mafia crime family in the city.

After Siegel's murder on June 20, 1947, his lieutenants Mickey Cohen and Jack Dragna began a turf war for control of his former territories. The war lasted nine years. Many mobsters were killed during the war, particularly on Cohen's side. Several other Mafia families backed Cohen and Dragna. In 1956, Dragna died and Cohen won the war.

Watts Riots

Main article: Watts Riots

The riots began on August 11, 1965, in Watts, when Lee Minikus, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, pulled Marquette Frye over. Minikus believed Frye was intoxicated because of observing his driving which Minikus believed to be erratic. While police questioned Marquette Frye and his brother Ronald Frye, a group of people began to gather. The mob began to throw rocks and other objects and shout at the police officers. A struggle ensued shortly after Frye's mother, Rena, arrived on the scene, resulting in the arrest of all three family members.

As a result of the riots, 34 people were officially reported killed (28 of those were African American), 1,032 people were injured, and 4,000 people were arrested. Among the dead were a fireman, an L.A. County deputy sheriff and a Long Beach police officer. The injured included 773 civilians, 90 Los Angeles police officers, 136 firefighters, 10 national guardsmen, and 23 persons from other governmental agencies. 118 of those injured were injured by firearms.

Six-hundred buildings were damaged or destroyed, and an estimated $35 million in damage was caused. Most of the physical damage was confined to businesses that were said to have caused resentment in the neighbourhood due to perceived unfairness. Homes were not attacked, although some caught fire due to proximity to other fires.

The crack epidemic (1984–1990)

Main article: Crack epidemic

Crack cocaine first began to be used on a massive scale in Los Angeles in 1984.[5][6] Between February and July 1984 cocaine abuse and related violence had exploded to unprecedented levels in the city, and by 1985, crack was available in most of the major American cities. South Central, where the crack cocaine problem was the worst in the country, became the site of many police raids. Previously unknown gangs were growing and new ones were emerging. The rap music genre, TV shows and movies portrayed that part of Los Angeles as a no-go zone and a highly violent area.

1992 Riots

The 1992 Los Angeles Riots, also known as the Rodney King uprising or the Rodney King riots, were sparked on April 29, 1992 when a jury acquitted four police officers accused in the videotaped violent and brutal beating of black motorist Rodney King when he allegedly resisted arrest following a high-speed car chase. Thousands in the Los Angeles area joined in a race riot involving acts of law-breaking, including looting, assault, arson and murder, seeing in King an example of injustice against minorities in the United States. The situation became too difficult to be handled by local police, and the California Army National Guard as well as federal soldiers and Marines were called in. About 5 National Guardsmen were injured during the riots. Overall, 53 people died during the riots.

North Hollywood shootout

The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily armed and armored bank robbers, Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, and patrol and SWAT officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in North Hollywood, California on February 28, 1997. It occurred when responding patrol officers engaged Phillips and Matasareanu leaving the robbed bank. Seventeen officers and civilians were wounded before both robbers were killed. Phillips and Matasareanu had previously robbed several banks prior to their attempt in North Hollywood and were notorious for their heavy armament, which included automatic assault rifles.


Main article: C.R.A.S.H.

Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, usually known as C.R.A.S.H., was a special unit of the Los Angeles Police Department established in the early 1970s to combat the rising problem of gangs in Los Angeles, California. Each of the 18 divisions had a C.R.A.S.H. unit whose primary goal was to suppress the influx of gang-related crimes in Los Angeles that came about primarily due to the increase in narcotics trade. C.R.A.S.H was also used in the popular game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as an antagonist organization.

Rampart scandal

Main article: Rampart scandal

The Rampart scandal refers to widespread corruption in the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (C.R.A.S.H.) anti-gang unit of the LAPD Rampart Division in the late 1990s. More than 70 police officers in the CRASH unit were implicated in misconduct, making it one of the most widespread cases of documented police misconduct in United States history. The convicted offenses include unprovoked shootings, unprovoked beatings, planting of evidence, frameups, stealing and dealing narcotics, bank robbery, perjury, and covering up evidence of these activities.

The Los Angeles May Day mêlée

On May 1, 2007, at MacArthur Park, a rally formed to raise awareness of prejudice against, and demands for amnesty for undocumented workers. As the rally continued, police attempted to break up the rally. Most rally participants dispersed peacefully, but some attacked the police with bottles and rocks. The police utilized less-than-lethal weapons in ways that many viewed as excessive.

South Central L.A.

Main article: South Los Angeles

South Los Angeles, formally known as South Central Los Angeles was once a notoriously dangerous region of the City of Los Angeles which has had an extensive history of gang violence started in the 1920s with white gangs being replaced by black and Hispanic gangs. However crime has rapidly dropped in South Los Angeles since the early 2000s and continues to drop to this day, due to current redevelopment, but gang activity has not yet totally vanished from the region.

South Central had become a byword for urban decay, its bad reputation spread by movies and films such as Colors, South Central, Menace II Society, Poetic Justice, Tales from the Hood, Friday, Thicker Than Water and in particular, South Central native John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood. Even more recent films such as Baby Boy, Training Day, Harsh Times, Dirty, Gridiron Gang, Waist Deep, Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club, Street Kings and End of Watch, including drama series such as Southland, Law & Order: LA and The Closer had continued the poor image. Those images of South Central; along with Long Beach, Compton, and even Watts; had been portrayed in West Coast Gangsta Rap and G-Funk songs, as well as in video games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V .

Crips and Bloods feud

After the FBI cracked down on black political organizations in the late 1960s, a social vacuum formed among black adolescents living in former South Central Los Angeles. Into this vacuum came two new gangs: the Crips and the Bloods. Conflict immediately arose between the two rival gangs. In the next 40 years, fighting between the two gangs took 5 times as many lives as the long running sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.[7] The continuing cause of the feud is best expressed as a "kill or be killed" culture described by T. Rodgers, co-founder of the Bloods, as "You better respect me. You better fear me." Speaking in a 2007 film documentary, a former Crip, named Pete, who survived to his middle years, said,

These wars go farther back than most of these kids been around. A lot of 'em [are] not sure about why the war was goin' on. They [simply] STARTED DOIN' WHAT WAS BEIN' DONE. [7]

The problem began with poverty and segregation, but has worsened with drugs, family separation and parental incarceration. The key to improving things, according to mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is education.[8]

Social impact

A 2003 comparison of twin psychological studies by the Lancet and Rand corporations discovered that the average child in South Los Angeles exhibits greater levels of post-traumatic stress disorder than children of a similar age in war-torn Baghdad, Iraq.[9][10]


During the prohibition era the waters of the South Coast were a popular smuggling route in for alcohol.[11] Largely forgotten in the later parts of the 20th Century, with increased security at the Mexico–United States border smuggling has increased;[11] during the 2011 fiscal year, more than 200 smuggling vessels were observed.[11] Most of the vessels attempt to off load their cargo of drugs and/or illegal immigrants in San Diego County,[12] however destinations are as far north as the California Central Coast.[11] Often, vessels used for smuggling operations are abandoned upon making landfall.[13]

See also



Further Readings

Monkkonan,Eric H."Homicide in Los Angeles, 1827-2002",The Journal of Interdisciplinary History Vol. 36, No. 2 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 167-183,The MIT Press


  1. 1 2 "". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2015-06-09. External link in |title= (help)
  2. "Uniform Crime Reports of Los Angeles and Index from 1985 to 2005".
  3. "DEA History Book, 1876–1990 (drug usage & enforcement), US Department of Justice, 1991, webpage: DoJ-DEA-History-1985-1990 Archived August 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine..
  4. "The CIA, Contras, Gangs, and Crack". Archived from the original on 27 April 2008.
  5. 1 2 PBS Independent Lens Documentary "Crips and Bloods" Made in America, Produced by Baron Davis, Directed by Stacy Peralta and Written by Stacy Peralta and Sam George
  6. Interview with Tavis Smiley, aired on PBS on May 18, 2009
  7. Marlene Wong, PhD, Sheryl Kataoka, MSHS, Lisa Jaycox, PhD, University of California Los Angeles Center for Research in Managed Care, Cognitive Behavior Intervention for Trauma in Schools, (CBITS)
  8. Stein, B., Jaycox, L., Kataoka, S., Wong, M., Tu, W., Elliot, M., & Fink, A. (2003). "A mental health intervention for schoolchildren exposed to violence: A randomized control trial." The Journal of American Medical Association, 290, 603–611.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Ian Lovett (9 December 2012). "Land Routes Blocked, Smuggling Rises Sharply on California Coast". New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  10. Jennewein, Chris (28 August 2014). "Panga Boat Carrying 20 Caught off Oceanside". Times of San diego. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
    Garske, Monica (26 September 2014). "Several Arrested After Panga Boat Washes Ashore". KNSD. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  11. Jill Replogle (20 December 2012). "For Boat Captain, Rescuing Maritime Smugglers Is Part Of The Job". KPBS. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
    Winkley, Lyndsay (25 August 2014). "7 who fled from washed up panga located". San Diego Union Tribune. MLIM Company. Retrieved 25 August 2014.

External links

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