Los Angeles police chief links coronavirus to increased gun violence, homicides

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore Tuesday linked the coronavirus pandemic’s economic and emotional effects to the city’s rising gun violence.

“What we’re sensing is a lot of stress, a lot of communities that are on edge, a certain amount of depression,” Moore said during a meeting with the civilian Police Commission, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He added that street and house parties have made “fertile bed for some type of spontaneous violence” in the wake of bars and clubs being closed.

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By September this year, homicides were up nearly 14% compared to last year and more than 20% from 2018. Shootings overall increased by 12%.

Earlier this year, officials pointed to lockdown measures for a decrease in shootings. Violent crime dropped by 5.6% overall this year.

Moore said the department has deployed shooting response teams to deal with the violence and are working with other agencies to identify “what cross-neighborhood issues may be influencing this.”

Still, the work has been hampered by a slashed budget amid calls to “defund the police.”

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Moore said the department will continue its mission to keep the streets safe but said the budget cuts will likely mean around 250 fewer officers on the streets.

By September, arrests for violent crimes were down by 10.6%, according to the Times.