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12.9.6: Evaluating Los Angeles County's Response to Rising Trends in Crime

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    by Celine Santos


    The first time I had moved into my family’s new home, I became acutely aware of the safety features it had offered from just a few taps to the screen of my phone which provided me a sense of comfort despite having moved nearly three years into the sunny state of cheerful and friendly California. It was also the time when I was introduced to the Ring application, also known as my introduction to my latest spiral of scrolling endlessly into the Neighbors section. The little Neighbors section would become my greatest ally for security while also being my greatest form of paranoia from the nights I spent from uncovering the truth of this freedom-laced state of mine. It was then that I garnered enough notifications on the application that highlighted stories of property crime within my city, theft, car theft, most especially with its parts such as catalytic converters, breaking and entering, property disturbance, and even assault. These instances do not end on smart applications such as Ring, but also make it to local news outlets. It was here that I learned of local instances such as a reported assault in an elementary school by a man armed with a machete (Castleman & Garcia, 2024), another involving a woman being awoken by a burglar with a hand over her mouth in the safety of her own home (Smith, 2024), and a recent report of a donut shop being broken into for attempted robbery (Nava, 2024). Despite having faith in the impact of the people and their anger, I also know these instances will not be the last. I wonder about my safety, my family’s, and those that are less equipped with safety measures in their own home. These thoughts remain even as I scroll to this day on the application alongside other news outlets on my timeline, wondering if these articles remain as articles alone. With these reports, I can never quite find any follow-ups to these offenses, especially with local ones in my area. I wonder, what of the other cities in my area? What of the entirety of the county?

    Thus, I decide to put these questions into evaluation and actual exploration of the aftermath, or perhaps even the lack thereof.  It was with these questions that pushed me to look beyond the comfort of my home on to the Los Angeles County, where citizens undoubtedly face the same sort of reality akin to my own with lingering, potential dangers. Through further exploration on these themes, I will touch on the governance and authority held over the Los Angeles County, especially with their responses to these trends in crime today. I will also touch on the policies and procedures passed by these officials for these trends alongside what is aimed at being passed for reforms, if needed. Finally, with the information learnt, I will discuss what else can and should be done in the light of these events.

    Los Angeles County Authorities’ Response

    To begin with the responses of Los Angeles County amidst the trending crime rates, common protocol for violations must first be defined. According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (n.d.), protocol for offenses follow an investigation towards the individual by gathering evidence. Should the evidence be sufficient for an arrest, the individual will then be subject to arrest by authorities. Then, it will be further determined if the arrestee has sufficient evidence for charges to be filed. If so, then a criminal complaint will then be filed before a case is then presented. The arrestee will then be represented either by an attorney of their choosing or by appointment from the judge. The judge will then decide whether the individual will be sentenced to conviction of their crimes or be acquitted of them. Additionally, the victim of the offense committed by the convicted individual is entitled to restitution, which will then charge the felon. This process is commonly followed by figures of authority in the state of California, especially observed through the protocol of crime charges. The thorough proceedings of an investigation down to the potential occurrence of conviction, however, remains to struggle from the proliferation of crime within the state. In Los Angeles County, crime rate has seen an unsteady rise and fall pattern. This apparent trend is reliant on the type of crime committed by individuals or groups of people, thus the reason for its unsteady pattern. In an article on the unsteady pattern of crime rate in Los Angeles, Newton (2023) states that violent crime, including homicide, sexual assault, and robbery were on a low trend from the year 2022’s number of 269 to 203 reports in 2023, amounting to a low of 24%. However, it was also in that same trend that property offenses, mentioned to be stable with a rate of 1.3% since 2021, rose at a rate of 14% in 2023. From this revelation, it can be observed that there is a mix of trends present in crime rate in 2023.


    Violent crimes in Los Angeles








    24% -


    Property crimes in Los Angeles


    Rate of Crime






    In comparison to the current year of 2024, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reports that as of April 21st, violent crimes have totaled to 3,511 in the past year of 2023 up to 3,609, noting a 2.79% increase. As for property crimes, they total from 14,388 in the past year of 2023 up to 15,648, thus amounting to an 8.76% increase. These rates are alarming to compare, seeing as the rates of crime have increased in the current year. Albeit the lower rate of violent crimes, there remains a small uptick to the statistic. It is even so with the case of property crime, where a shocking increase within this year has occurred amongst the properties owned by Los Angeles County citizens.

    Violent crimes in Los Angeles County








    2.79% +


    Property crimes in Los Angeles County








    8.76% +


    Los Angeles County Government’s Current Policies

    One can only wonder how the officials holding influence in Los Angeles County’s policies are acting upon the trend of crime presently unfolding today. With District Attorney George Gascón’s confirmation of crime rate, especially with offenses on retail theft on property, he acknowledges that there indeed is an issue within the county as there have been confirmed to be nearly 200 cases (County of Los Angeles, 2024). In the turn of these events, the striking policies passed to address crime rate were two featured responses: Proposition 47 and the zero-bail policy. These two policies came in light of reformation of the criminal justice system, a means to combat crime rate in California. In Los Angeles County, these two policies were passed in hopes of lessening crime rate convictions for the sake of reforms for offenses committed. This may refer to the county’s focus on reform to lead people who committed crime to proper means of rehabilitating rather than criminalizing them.

    Proposition 47, or shortly known as Prop 47, is regarded to be a policy of interest and controversy in the recent times. This policy begun in 2014 when it was first passed on a ballot measure. The proposition is established as a policy that redefines the type of crime committed as a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor should the crime be of a non-violent nature (Law offices of Los Angeles County, n.d.). Additionally, the value of the crime in the case of theft and other similar crime should fall within the range of $950. Anything of value beyond the limit along with any violent crime is subject to a felony charge. Charges that fall under the charges of misdemeanor include petty theft, grand theft crimes, certain forgeries, commercial burglary, bad check, possession of stolen property, and possession of a controlled substance. What is most interesting to find among these offenses is the possession of drugs, specifically controlled types. This feature of simple drug possession is of surprise given that it falls under a vague veil of circumstance, especially if it should be in the hands of a minor or if this should be possessed on inappropriate grounds such as educational or work environments. The purpose of this policy coming to be in California law is to “ensure that prison spending is focused on violent and serious offenses, to maximize alternatives for non-serious, nonviolent crime, and to invest the savings generated from [the proposition] into prevention and support programs in K-12 schools, victim services, and mental health and drug treatment” (California Courts, 2016). Los Angeles County’s response to crime through this policy is also aimed at reducing prison population in hopes of prioritizing crimes of graver nature such as violent assault crimes. Furthermore, they would also approach misdemeanors as a form of reformation towards the public and move towards prevention of committing these crimes and seeking counsel.

    The zero-bail policy, formally known as the Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols or PARP, is a law that was implemented in October 2023 with the intent of focusing on the bail and release of individuals who have committed offenses. Its purpose was to “eliminate the existing cash bail system for all but the most serious of crimes” (ABC7, 2023) alongside ending the common method of the bailing system for misdemeanors and felonies that are non-violent in nature. The policy is concerned with court ruling, where it mostly based on the time of an arrestee’s booking up until their appearance before the judge, which is a relatively short amount of time ranging from two to five days (Cagle, 2023). The process for the zero-bail policy contains five category programs, first beginning with the Cite and Release (CR) programs that establishes that arrested individuals are released from their location of arrest when they agree to appear in court following their offenses (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, 2023). For Book and Release (BR) programs, arrestees are put into an enforcement facility where they are to stay until they are deemed to be safe enough to release with a $0 bail. They are then required to appear in court after bailing. Magistrate Review (MR) programs narrows down offenses to non-violent acts that may be of harm to society, they will be referred to a magistrate official dealing with minor offenses to ensure the arrestee’s following presence in court due to their nature. The magistrate is also in charge of facilitating non-financial conditions if they should be deemed acceptable for release on zero bail when these conditions are met. Money Bail is when violent offenses are charged and does not allow arrestee the privilege of the zero-bail policy. Finally, the fifth condition is when arrestees are not eligible for release, leading to the individual to be convicted and detained.

    Strengths and Weaknesses

                The strengths from these policies passed would be the non-discriminatory nature of policies. This is especially found in the zero-bail policy, where the reduction of bail charges was advantageous to arrestees without the financial stability or capability to pay for bail were the charges to be instilled without the policy. This places struggling individuals with lesser charges whereas higher charges to their finances may only worsen their status in life. This instead beckons them to come forward with their offenses to the court without heavier burden on their earnings. This may in turn allow better reforms for arrestees and felons, especially when they are given the opportunity to live up to their agreements and accept court rulings. With lesser bail charges following offenses, arrestees may opt for reform through the system’s rulings especially for those struggling in their way of life through finance. Instead of opting for a continued manner of crime, they may partake of prevention and support programs for individuals of the same previous lifestyle as the government claimed to allocate more funds to programs rather than charging misdemeanors. Proposition 47 also offers the same strength, where it allows convicted individuals the freedom to reform following their offenses due to the enactment of labeling crimes down to misdemeanors. This promotes better action towards well-being towards the self and the community as the justice system makes the necessary judgements for reform. These especially apply to individuals struggling with their status on the streets or even struggling with substance abuse. Through the proposition, these individuals can be aided with guidance and rehabilitation rather than serving jail time. Additional to these reformative pathways, it is also said that crime rate has lowered in response to these policies established. According to Lagos (2024) in their comparison to statistics in arrests in 2013, theft cases dropped from 15% down to 6.6% in 2022, the year prior to Proposition 47’s passing. This can be perceived in a positive outlook due to the dropping of this trend of crime since the upcoming establishment of the proposition. However, it should be noted that these statistics interlink with the fact that rates of arrests have also fallen or have failed to be reported by authorities. Hence arrives the weakness of these policies. Other than the instances of arrests not occurring and going unreported, there are also issues to the lack of policies for rearrests and being convicted once again of these crimes for Proposition 47. Due to the nature of degrading some charges of felonies down to misdemeanors, this may make it easier for recidivism to occur in the light of misdemeanor charges. Proposition 47 additionally does not offer any further policies to convict repeat offenders and it can be difficult to do so when the limit of value stops at $950. Furthermore, repeat offenders also see this policy as an opportunity for continuing their life of crime to support their lifestyle. In the case of Sina, an individual who has been arrested 16 times for stealing bikes in his neighborhood, he states that he has succumbed to his life of crime because of the proposition’s raising of felony theft value to $950 (Chang, Gerber, Poston, 2015). He also does so to support his dedication to his addiction to meth, which contradicts the strength of rehabilitation offered by the justice system. As for the zero-bail policy, a weakness that can be observed from the categories of programs presented is that violent offenses may prevail amidst non-violent forms. With such an instance of the proliferation of violent crime, especially with the wavering trends of crime, traditional money bail offenses may prevail regardless (Aron, 2023).

    Proposals in Addressing Los Angeles County’s Current State

                From the given policies, the public have come to a mix of responses to the policies established by Los Angeles County. Today, people remain to be divided on Proposition 47 and the zero-bail policy. Reason for division on Proposition 47 lie with inhibiting progress through convicting criminals without chances of reform or allowing safety to the public and victims (Pardo & Ellison, 2024), which is justifiable cause for the public to be unsure of where to stand. The zero-bail policy has also felt the impact of opposition following its establishment as 12 cities in Los Angeles County had sued against the policy’s effect (Hamilton, 2023).

    What can be done among the division of the public towards governance and crime rate in Los Angeles County? Further calls for reforming laws of Proposition 47 can be instilled amidst the remaining trend of crime. Following the pattern of recidivism, there have been calls for amending the proposition to address the occurrence of repeat offenses. One act to put this into motion is the amendment of the proposition through acts such as the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act, advocating for the balance between reforming individuals of their lifestyle should they seek this willingly and holding repeat offenders accountable (Hill, 2024). The act additionally opens opportunity for justice to emerge from the offer of judges to practice the law towards recidivism specifically in the line of theft rates on property (Miracle & Kopp, 2024). While this act has earned popularity for the upcoming ballot in November, there is yet to be sufficient signatures for its place on the ballot. Further support garnered for this act can lead to better restructuring of the proposition, lessening rates of crimes committed whilst also allowing rehabilitation to criminals who wish to accept reforms for their offenses. This can also be practiced with the zero-bail policy, especially through further chances for reform while also keeping in check those who commit crimes following bail and court meetings. With both the action in the aftermath of awareness towards the situation, the citizens alongside government officials may work side by side in deeming acts for amendment to be true and in effect amidst the unsafe environment headed by gray areas within policies established. It also takes fiercer authority to combat crime by sticking to amendments, making the necessary adjustments to balance both justice and reformation of the being.

                To close, I part with this information alongside questions of reflection. With all technology today, from reports, safety cameras, and friendly neighbors online, how safe do you feel in your home? Perhaps this answer may vary based upon your area or even your privilege. Let it be known that beyond these spaces, there remain unlit corners of the county that remain haunted with crime both reported and unreported. There are neighbors both online and offline with voices that go unheard from these incidents, people whose voices are taken away by statistics or perpetrators themselves. So, I ask, how safe do you truly feel knowing that this trend may continue without proper acknowledgement from the law and further action? I know full well that the numbers will only remain at an increase if we ourselves do not make the effort for a true decrease in both crimes. I know that even after this fulfilling search of the county’s trends and efforts that I will continue to scroll on the deep end of the Neighbors section on Ring and continue checking cameras late at night. Perhaps others stricken with paranoia of their homes and safety may do the same, checking cameras or looking behind their shoulders late at night with each gap of their knuckles wielding their keys – just in case. When will it ever end? Only voters, passionate citizens with a cause, and politicians of full awareness to this situation can truly answer this. Will you answer to this?



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    12.9.6: Evaluating Los Angeles County's Response to Rising Trends in Crime is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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