Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva reported Wednesday that the number of violent crimes his department responded to in January was up compared to last year, which he attributes in part to “shameless politicians campaigning on defunding the police.”
On Wednesday, Villanueva took to social media to discuss the number of violent crimes that his department responded to in the first month of 2021.
“Judging by these preliminary numbers for 2021, it is not a very encouraging sign for what happens once the pandemic is over,” he said.
Throughout the month of January, two dozen instances of criminal homicide were reported to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, up by 140% when compared to January of 2020.
“That’s a huge number,” Villanueva said. “However, because the size of the numbers are smaller, the statistical significance doesn’t carry the same weight as another number that I’m going to tell you.”
That number Villanueva referred to is 20.17%, which is the percentage increase for instances of aggravated assault — which includes crimes such as assault with a deadly weapon and drive-by shootings — as 715 such incidents were reported in January of 2021 compared to 595 from the previous January.
“That 20% is kind of a harbinger of what’s going to happen with the homicide rate over a long period of time,” Villanueva said. “This is a bigger set of numbers, it has more statistical weight.”
The largest increase in terms of sheer numbers came in reported instances of grand theft auto, with that number nearly doubling from 856 in January of 2020 to 1,571 in January of 2021.
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“Some people think ‘Grand Theft Auto’ the game is in real life and are practicing it,” Villanueva said. “Some people are going to point to the consequences having been removed because of the zero-bail schedule or some of the directives from the new District Attorney. However (…) it’s too early to tell.”
Villanueva went on to state that one “big driver” of this increase in violent crime are “shameless politicians campaigning on defunding the police.”
“Discrediting (and) delegitimizing everything that law enforcement does has consequences,” he said. “There is going to be a criminal element that thinks ‘Well, the cops are under the gun, so we can get away with doing more things.’”
The Sheriff also attributed the increase in violent crime to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which the county did not have to contend with back in January of 2020.
“There’s a lot of different tensions created by the pandemic that are now being exacerbated by people acting out and committing crimes of violence,” Villanueva said. “The pandemic itself is rearranging a lot of the norms of society.”
Villanueva ultimately encouraged residents to come together to lower the violent crime rate instead of looking for someone or something to blame.
“Instead of spending all the time demonizing law enforcement, let’s find ways to work together,” Villanueva said. “Take those bricks, and instead of throwing them at somebody, let’s use that energy to build something with them.”
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