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Data Shows Arrests Numbers Dropping at the Local and State Levels

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

In Los Angeles and across the state, law enforcement officers are increasingly making fewer arrests, according to an LA Times story published over the weekend.

In 2010, the LAPD made 145,354 arrests, compared with 100,346 in 2015. The LA County Sheriff’s Department made 138,511 arrests in 2010, but the number dropped to 99,478 in 2015.

At the state level, in 2015, law enforcement officers reported the lowest number of arrests in close to 50 years. There were 1.1 million arrests in 2015, compared with 1.5 million arrests in 2006.

Field interview cards, which are used for some encounters between officers and civilians that don’t end in an arrest or citation, also fell dramatically for both the LAPD and the LASD.

In November of 2014, LAPD officers turned in the lowest number of cards in nearly five years. The number of field interviews conducted by LA County deputies dropped 67% between 2012 and 2016. LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell attributed the decrease to budget woes that led to a big reduction in the number of LASD gang enforcement teams.

There isn’t one clear reason why officers are making fewer arrests, but there are a number of possibilities that law enforcement officials have suggested.

The board of directors for the Association for Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies (ALADS) says one major factor for the LASD is a “lack of un-obligated patrol time due to short staffing in our patrol functions.” Instead of being able to engaging with the public and performing proactive policing, deputies “spend time racing from call to call.”

The short staffing also forces patrol deputies to work multiple overtime shifts every week, which often results in 16-hour shifts. “The fatigue factor of long shifts and the realization that an arrest towards the end of a shift will lead to multiple hours in paperwork and additional hours in processing if a booking takes place, combined with compression of work weeks, is certainly a discouragement to making an arrest,” the ALADS board said. “In addition, making an arrest often requires backup, the availability of which many times is in question due to short staffing.”

While arrests have been falling, certain crime numbers have been creeping up in Los Angeles over the past several years.

According to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, arrests for most of the rising serious crimes, arrests for those crime categories have also risen. Much of the drop in arrests reportedly comes from narcotics-related crimes. Between 2010 and 2015, the LAPD’s felony arrests dropped 29% overall, while misdemeanor arrests dropped 32%.

The deputies’ union says that arrests are “discretionary acts,” and that sometimes deputies will instead write a report about the crime, “leaving it to prosecutors to file charges and send a notification letter to the defendant with an appearance date for arraignment.”

What would cause a deputy to decline to arrest someone in favor of writing a report? “Simple,” says ALADS. “Making an arrest presents an opportunity for second guessing by the Department, politicians, and the public.”

LAPD officers have been affected by public scrutiny of law enforcement in the wake of high-profile fatal shootings by cops, but that the concern hasn’t had a negative impact on crime fighting, according to Chief Beck. “I don’t really see things that make me think that the workforce as a body is retreating,” Beck told the Times. Plus, the LAPD’s drop in arrests started before the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Beck argues that modern policing isn’t just about arrests. The chief pointed out that certain strategies, like community policing and swarming crime hot spots, may be increasing public safety while resulting in few arrests. Chief Beck says he doesn’t want officers to focus on arrest numbers. “I don’t want them to care about that,” Beck told the Times. “I want them to care about how safe their community is and how healthy it is.”

Sheriff McDonnell and other local officials in CA have blamed increases in crime on Proposition 47, which downgraded six low-level drug and property felonies to misdemeanors. Some officers have also said they’ve stopped making arrests for some of the offenses reduced by Prop. 47, which would at most land someone in jail for a few months.

A 2016 report from the the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice shows no correlation between Prop. 47 and crime. The study, authored by CJCJ Senior Research Fellow Mike Males, examines shifts in crime rates from January to June 2014 and January to June 2015 in the state’s 68 largest cities, and compares those numbers to county jail populations and Prop. 47-related “discharges and releases from prison to resentencing counties.”

“If the reduction in local jail populations after Proposition 47 passed in November 2014 is responsible for the urban crime increase in early 2015, as some sources are arguing, then cities in counties with the largest reductions in jail populations in 2015 would show the biggest increases in crime,” Males writes. The data does not match this theory, however.

Cities in the 11 counties with the most significant decreases in overall jail populations and felony jail populations “showed equivalent changes in violent crime, and smaller increases in property and total crime,” compared with the cities in the 10 counties with the smallest drops in jail populations.

In these 11 counties with greater jail population decreases (total average daily jail populations decreased 15%, and average felony jail populations reduced by 18%), the overall crime rate increased by just 1%. In the 10 counties with smaller jail population decreases (total average daily jail pop. decreased 7%, and average felony jail pop. dropped by 11%), overall crime numbers increased by 6%.

“Both sets of counties experienced violent crime increases of 9%, while the 11 large jail population decrease counties saw no increase in property crime,” Males writes. “Significantly, the 10 smaller jail population decrease counties experienced a six% increase in property crime.”


Photo credit: Steve Lyon.

19 Comments

  • Repealing criminal laws (prop 47) has no correlation with crime? Does the writer mean crimes other than those decriminalized in prop 47? Is this just poor writing? because it makes no sense. Not to mention the crime statistics. Crime is not up ,except violent crime is up ,but overall not really. Just bad writing or is the writer suffering from the cognitive dissonance that the statistics aren’t matching the narrative?

    • For god sakes Maj. Kong, don’t you dare suggest that Ms. Walker, along with all those other prop 47 supporters are grasping at straws to find a reason other than the passing of prop 47 for the rising crime rate. That is bad social manners.
      The progressive’s in CA won’t ever admit to having buyers remorse, for that would insinuate that their ideas aren’t all that and a bag of chips. They will never accept the responsibility for the unintended consequences of their soft on crime policies. It will always be reported as a complex problem with so many intangibles it’s impossible to determine that prop 47 is the “Root cause” lol.
      BTW, I’m only commenting on this so Talent Scout can finally speak up again. I’m sure he or she is busting at the seams to comment again. Since Talent Scout only comments in response to me, I thought I would give him an opportunity to open the pressure relief valve.
      There now, there’s a softball for you Talent Scout.
      YOU’RE WELCOME

  • Making LEO’s are fearful of “taking risks” in the performance of a dangerous job they signed up to do. This coupled with non-supportive parent organizations and a media inspired “activist citizenry” has gotten us to this point. How can anyone be so naive to think drug crimes are not a gateway into more series crimes such as burglaries and robberies. There are some drug abusers who maintain 9 to 5 jobs and can financially support their cravings. However, there are also those who can’t and resort to stealing and other property crimes to finance their habits. Maybe people are starting to wake up and smell the stench of bad decisions and irresponsible story telling. Or maybe this is just the new norm with a standards bar that just keeps on dropping lower and lower.

  • Funny how Ms. Walker only quoted or talked to Politicians or union idiots who are merely de facto politicians themselves. Why not take the time to talk to a few Fucking beat cops!?!?

    From a beat cop to a completely biased so called reporter who has no interest in the truth; Crime is up because we have our blinders on. Crime is up because Heroin is now a misdemeanor!!! (That’s both fact and a metaphor)

    Here’s a hint Ms. Walker. If you want facts and the truth, the last people you should talk to or quote are McDonald, Beck or union people!!!!!

    • Come on Ownership…..What’s wrong with the unified voice of ALADS? LOL! If they have one voice in everything they say and do, then opening up elections to every member should be next. Obviously one board member disagrees with the current board, leaving six members.

  • Oh Well, Glad to know that I’m still on your mind. For your info and the ballot box, I voted NAY for Prop 47. Been around long enough to know the results and backlash for it being passed. Was I supposed to embrace Prop 47? We both know that stats (arrests) go down when the blinders go up, (with less threatening crimes). No sparring here. It is what it is.

    • Right on cue. Yes, you were on my mind. Because I wanted to prove or disprove my theory after you denied I was correct. Only two possibilities. 1. You are in fact another frequent commenter who follows this blog regularly but only uses “Talent Scout” in an attempt to disguise your other alias (As I alleged before and you denied), or 2. You have nothing better to do than to follow this blog like a hawk but never comment until I do.
      You still going to roll with that? You think a jury would buy that?
      You bit like a piranha the minute the bait hit the water.
      Oops.
      Not a big deal. Just wanted to see if my gut was right back when I accused you of being another commenter. You should’ve changed it up a little bit and commented under “Talent Scout” every now and then when I was remaining mute. That would’ve kept it from being so glaringly obvious. Or you could’ve not tried to bullshit a bullshitter from the very beginning and you wouldn’t be feeling silly right now.
      Anyway, good decision on prop 47. No, you weren’t supposed to vote for it. No cop was. We all knew how this was going to play out from Jump St.

      • “Righty-O” re, your last paragraph. Your obsession of me since our last dialogue is intriguing. You can take pot shots or just roll with the latest WLA entry. If you’re so concerned about the other guy’s punch, then you should stay out of the ring and not comment.

        • Lol. I can take a punch partner. Sometimes to land one you’ve got to take one. That’s what I did when I baited you. I stuck my chin out and INVITED you to throw that lazy left jab of yours.
          I simply wanted to find out for once and for all if I was right from the get go about you.
          Obsession? Hmmm. Let’s look at that, since you keep bringing it up.
          I’m not the one who tries to appear as a different commenter and then ONLY responds to ONE other commenter. I wonder what the PDR and/or the DSM would suggest that is an indicator of.
          We can move on if you’d like. Like I said, it’s no big deal to me. Especially now that I’ve exposed you.
          I’m over it. The question is——are you? I’m not the one who threw the first punch.

          • Oh Well, You’re one funny guy. I’ve heard many marijuana users say that getting high while watching cartoons is hilarious. On the contrary, I’m in a Irish Pub for “Happy Hour” drinking a brew-ski while laughing my ass off looking at your post. Dude…….You’re killing me. Lol!

  • I admire the words of the LASD Deputy on the front page of Sunday’s (4/2/17) Los Angeles Times. Deputy Anthony Federico says that “he refuses to let increased public scrutiny affect his work”……Spoken like a selfless and dedicated Lawman. All LEO’S may not agree, however it speaks volumes of his oath as a public servant.

  • I admire folks who are committed to doing the job to the best of their abilities and honor the oath. However, everyone need s to make sure they manage the risks, not only to their lives but more importantly the risks to their careers and livelihood.

    The reality is, law enforcement is a job of risks and most folks who do the job accepted that fact. In today’s age, is it really worth your loosing your job, livelihood and coming under department sanction, and public vilification for taking often unneccessary discretionary risks?

  • Rather than going back and forth like a bunch of “cyber tough guys”, why don’t you guys just send each other an address to meet and settle the score once and for all. Let the rest of the intellectual community utilize this forum for its intended purpose; meaningful literary comments on a newsworthy article.

    • You’re correct….re, proper forum. We both add intelligent responses on said subjects, however “Oh Well” is stuck on whoever calls him out on anything. I responded to Prop 47 and he made it one of his acting props. Wiley Coyote has to learn to leave “well enough” alone.

    • Hey Not Sure,
      #1. Nobody has pretended to be a “tough guy”. Not Talent Scout nor myself. There has been no “I’ll kick your ass” by either one of us.
      #2. Are you a member of the “intellectual community”? If so, where do you rate among your peers? Just wondering because you either have a serious problem with reading comprehehension or you just make shit up out of whole cloth—-like the “cyber tough guy” description.
      #3. Your fellow members of the “intellectual community” simply don’t have much to say. The lowly dullards like Talent Scout and myself provide traffic for Celeste’s blog when there’s not much going on.
      #4. Sorry for distracting you from your MENSA meeting. As you were. Carry on.

  • My apologies to the Host of WLA and the avid readers for taking away space to play “Pong” & “Cyber Grappling” on this Website with commenter “Oh Well”. I will continue to comment but I’ll play Chess on another blog. No hard feelings. I recognize and respect journalism with the opportunity to openly comment.

  • The main reason why arrests and detentions have decreased dramatically are simple. When deputies detain anyone the chances of a deputy getting fired and prosecuted increase. I know of deputies who are currently being prosecuted only because they dared to detain possible suspects. The LASD is not run by the sheriff, it is run by a female civilian at Constitutional policing Advisory, (CPA). Yes, that lady who we all know hates deputies. She has “fresh eyes” under some kind of spell. She is the undersheriff. When Tanaka was the undersheriff, he allegedly said, “work in the gray and take criminals to jail”. This lady, who has the same personality of Tanaka, has given marching orders to the police of the police. The orders mirror Tanka’s views, just a different agenda, “work in the gray and take deputies to jail.” However, like anything in life, nothing lasts forever, those who do you wrong will eventually face their own karma. Can anyone post the amount of deputies getting harshly disciplined, fired and prosecuted in relation to the crime rise? I put money down, they follow the same trend……thank you “D” you are doing an awesome job….

  • It would be interesting to see the percentage drops in self-initiated arrests as compared to call related arrests and rise in crime. No Police officer as ever been fired for not make self-initiated contacts, but many have for making self-initiated contacts when politicians/bureaucrats didn’t like the looks of it. Until politicians/bureaucrats/administrators start standing up for the line officers crime in California will increase.

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