L.A.’s low homicide rate

kil#i*ggs are the lowest since the ’70s as anti-gang efforts pay off. We need more of the same
December 29, 2007
Maybe the best holiday gift Los Angeles received this year was the news that fewer of its citizens are being murdered. As The Times reported this week, the city is on track to end 2007 with the lowest homicide count since 1970, when L.A. had 1 million fewer residents. Public officials, police and academics give differing reasons for the drop in violence, but it’s a phenomenon to be celebrated regardless of its cause. And it’s evidence that police efforts to crack down on gangs — the source of most of L.A.’s kil#i*ggs — should be continued and strengthened; despite the good news, the war on gangs isn’t anywhere close to being won.

Gentrification is one of the explanations offered for the drop in gang homicides. Communities such as Venice, Echo Park, Hollywood and downtown are experiencing demographic changes as rising home prices have brought wealthier residents in and pushed poorer ones out. That doesn’t mean the displaced gangsters have simply disappeared. Many have moved to places such as San Bernardino, where the murder count is up this year, or the Bay Area, or Fresno, or to other states. Though Angelenos certainly appreciate the reprieve, chasing crime somewhere else isn’t the same as reducing it.

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