I moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1990’s. I came from a small town in the south east. When I was growing up, the local news would show every crime that happened in a 200 mile radius. Hit and runs, vandalism, accidental shootings… if a car got broken into and a CD was stolen, it was on the news.
I always found it odd that crime in Los Angeles was rarely on the news. Sure, a freeway chase would cut into afternoon cartoons now and then, but we never heard of the gang wars, and robberies that one would except in Los Angeles. I first thought that TV and movies blew everything out of proportion. That crime in LA wasn’t really that bad.
Then, someone I knew had their car stolen. Then another friend had their car broken into. Then another friend was held up at gun point. Then another friend was robbed at knife point… the list goes on and on.
I eventually moved away from Los Angeles. I figured a big city was not where I wanted to be when the shit hits the fan. But in the 20 years I lived there, five homeless people were killed on my street. Some kid hacked his mother up with an ax two buildings down. Three people were shot in an apartment across the street from me, and some gang banger unloaded a clip into the bar around the corner from me. These are just a few of the incidents that I can remember happening within a mile of my middle class neighborhood apartment. None of them made the news.
I stopped 3 attempts by burglars to break into my apartment over 15 years. (One reason why I will never give up my handgun.)
A friend of mine was a bartender at the bar around the corner when the gang banger unloaded his gun into the building. The shooter was across the street when he did it. According to my friend, he was pissed because they threw him out for starting a fight. When LAPD showed up, they told my friend that there was no evidence of shots fired… maybe it was just fireworks. My friend then claimed to have pointed out to the officer that he was standing on the spent shells. The cop was not amused.
At first I wrote this incident off. The police didn’t like the bar my friend worked at. They had received several fines, and were obviously on the LAPD’s shit list. The bar hosted a weekly “hip hop night”, and according to the owner, the LAPD had told them to change their clientele if they wanted to stop getting so many fines. Maybe this shooting was never reported because the LAPD was racist… or maybe it was because no one was hit.
I often wondered why none these incidents were never reported by the media. Was it the news media trying to make LA look safer then it was? Was it the LAPD trying to get a bigger budget? Was it the mayors office trying to make itself look good by showing a reduction in crime?
For a while, I thought it was the later. In 2013 Huffington Post ran an article titled “Los Angeles Crime Drops, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Credits LAPD Hiring Priority”.
Most people I knew seemed to think I was a conspiracy nut for thinking LA was hiding it’s true crime figures. However, The LA Times recently ran an article that seems to support my claims. The article, titled “LAPD MISCLASSIFIED NEARLY 1,200 VIOLENT CRIMES AS MINOR OFFENSES” shows that the Los Angeles Police Department misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies. Some LAPD officers interviewed by the LA Times claimed the reason for the misclassifications was “relentless, top-down pressure to meet crime reduction goals.” “Whenever you reported a serious crime, they would find any way possible to make it a minor crime,” claimed retired Det. Tom Vettraino Does this mean the Mayors office was pressuring them to under report crime? Or are these officers just trying to shift the blame?