Is LA on track for fewer murders this year?

First quarter murders are down

Murders are down by more than 15% during the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period last year, according to data from the LAPD.


There were 56 recorded murders in the City of Los Angeles during the first three months of the year, a decrease from 66 recorded during the first three months of 2018.


The first quarter numbers might bode well for continuing the recent trend of steadily decreasing homicides in the city.


Last year’s total murder count  was 258, with incidents distributed fairly evenly across the year. While still tragically high , it represented a big improvement from just a few decades earlier. In 1992, the year of widespread protests stemming from the police beating of Rodney King, a record 1,092 people were murdered in the city. Authorities at the time blamed access to guns, gang violence and civil unrest. In Los Angeles  County that year, 2,589 people were murdered.


Here’s what we learned from this year’s numbers:



While reports of criminal homicide may be down so far in 2019, there were two high profile murders in March: Nipsey Hussle, 33, and USC music student Victor McElhaney, 21, both African American males were shot and killed in unrelated incidents. Nipsey Hussle was killed during a weekend of intense violence.  


As we reported previously, the LAPD labeled Victor McElhaney’s murder with “0906,” the code for gangs, despite neither police reports nor news reports mentioning gang involvement. The police were unable to comment on this data discrepancy, citing their ongoing investigation.


There were 34 other criminal homicides tagged with the 0906 gang code in the first quarter of this year.


The LAPD labeled Nipsey Hussle’s murder with “0395: Murder/Suicide,” though they said on April 11 that the coding was done in error. However, the code is still present in the data visible through the city’s Open Data Portal of his March 31 murder. Four other criminal homicides of the 56 had the code for Murder/Suicide.


How we did it: We examined publicly available LAPD data on reports of criminal homicides for the first quarter of 2019. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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