It’s Not About Crime and Never Was: Bernard Parks’ ouster as LAPD Chief
By Alex A. Alonso (Streetgangs.com)
April 12, 2002
For example Simi Valley, a city where many police officers live saw 2001 become one of the most violent years ever, with 6 homicides (mostly domestic), more than they have seen in the last three years combined. But it would be ridiculous to blame Police Chief Randy Adams for that recent upsurge. In fact, all of Ventura County saw homicides increase 34% since 1999 from 23 to 31 in 2001. But that figure is still better than the 48 homicides that took place in 1991.
Compton, Long Beach, and areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s department have all seen increases in crime, but are we to believe that Lee Baca and Jerome Lance are incompetent chiefs? The problem stems from using 1999, a year that saw crime at a 30 year low, become the barometer for measuring crime in our society today. State Attorney General Bill Lockyer recently released a report announcing that crime increased in several jurisdictions in California not just Los Angeles. The problem is not just in California but violent crime increased in Hawaii last year after they saw a record low in 1999. Boston and Phoenix had a 60 percent increase in homicides during 2001 compared to the previous year. Also homicides increased 22 percent in St. Louis, 17.5 percent in Houston, 15 percent in San Antonio, 11.6 percent in Atlanta and 5.2 percent in Chicago in 2001. Homicides in Newark, NJ, rose by 63 percent in 2001, to 96, from 59 in 2000 with nearly a third of them in Central Ward.The only exception for a large city was New York which had a 5 percent decrease partly due to the unfortunate events of September 11th. In Los Angeles homicides increased from 551 in 2000 to 587 in 2001, a 6.5 percent increase, and a 39 percent increase from 1999, if that’s the year we use as our measuring rod.
The good news is that the number of homicides that occurred in 2001 is still less than those that occurred for every year between 1978 and 1996 and compound that with a population that has grown from 2.9 million in 1980 to almost 3.7 million residents in 2000. Additionally gang membership has grown from 30,000 in 1980 to about 150,000 in 2000 for LA County. So what is all the uproar about 2001 crime statistics? Considering population increases 2001 is still one of the best years on record for crime in Los Angeles.
The Chief is absolutely right when he stated that his opponents have “politicized” the selection process. The crime cry is an easy one to sell to the public and can conveniently hide other factors that weighed into denying Chief Parks a 2nd term. The dismantling of CRASH, the number of police on the streets, and other administrative changes that Parks has implemented is clearly not responsible for the recent upsurge in crime. Whether there are 8,000 or 10,000 officers on the streets the cycle of crime is an entity with an engine of its own that will steadily increase and decrease usually consistent with economic cycles. Presidents, governors, mayors, senators, other elected officials, including police chiefs are not responsible and cannot influence crime trends. It is completely dishonest to blame the recent crime spike on the Chief and his policies, and most of us should be skeptical about those who consistently bring that issue up.