The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has some good news for residents of Los Angeles County to close out 2017 and ring in 2018. According to preliminary data gathered and analyzed by the LASD, violent crimes in areas patrolled by deputies fell in 2017 –particularly homicides. L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced at an end-of-the-year news conference that homicides had fallen 20.5 percent in 2017 as compared with 2016. He credited the efforts of deputies, community outreach workers, and special programs that reduce gang activity as being especially effective in reducing violent crimes.
In 2016, there were 137 gang-related homicides in L.A. County. This year, that number has dropped to 100. The total number of homicide-related deaths in the count for 2017 was 167.
It isn’t just in homicides where authorities are seeing a decline. According to the same data, rapes, grand theft auto, larceny, aggravated assaults and robberies totaled 73,431 in 2017. Last year, that number was 77,007. Cities that contract with the LASD to provide law enforcement for Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Malibu, Lancaster, West Hollywood and Norwalk saw an overall drop of 4.6 percent in violent crime this year.
According to Sheriff McDonnell, focuses on human trafficking and cracking down on the dangerous street drug fentanyl assisted in increasing the number of arrests this year. The data in the LASD report includes 521 arrests this year of pimps and others related to human trafficking, compared to 372 in 2016. Additionally, 76 victims of human trafficking (50 of whom were minors) were rescued this year.
Regarding fentanyl, deputies this year made 1,028 arrests compared to last year’s 719. As a result of the arrests, 242 lbs. of the dangerous drug were seized. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid used in the medical world as a treatment for pain. It was developed in the 1960s, is 100 times more powerful than morphine and made headlines in 2016 as being the cause of death for world-renowned musician Prince. Fentanyl is so potent that as little as 2 or 3 micrograms, the physical size of a few grains of salt, is enough to kill an adult. The drug is strictly controlled, and typically only prescribed by doctors to cancer patients and others who experience severe pain.
While the reduction in violent crimes has been a net positive for law enforcement, Sheriff McDonnell went on to state that it was accomplished in a “very difficult police environment.” He was referring to the passages of AB 109, the transfer of prison inmates to county jails, and Propositions 47 and 57 – both of which made police work more challenging by reducing the penalties for certain crimes.