Angelenos across the city have gotten to know their neighbors a lot better these past few months. Perhaps too well. The number of times the police have been called in for a dispute between neighbors jumped by 48% between January and April this year, according to records of Los Angeles Police Department service calls.
Good fences may make good neighbors; a protracted period of COVID-19-induced quarantine, apparently, does not. And police officers are being thrust into the role of crisis negotiators between neighbors.
Calls to the LAPD for complaints about neighbors typically averaged 41 calls per day from Jan. 1 – May 9, 2020. But the police were especially busy on May 5, when they received 70 calls, the most so far this year.
Service calls are a record of all instances that LAPD officers respond to, including calls that come in over 911, the department’s non-emergency number and events that officers respond to in the field. Calling the police does not mean a crime was committed. But sometimes those calls do lead to crime reports that range from illegal dumping to assault with a deadly weapon.
Suspect lives next door
In one bizarre example, a neighbor accused of being a peeping tom entered the single family home of a 15-year-old girl on May 3 on the 7600 block of Balboa Blvd. in Lake Balboa. The police were called, and since the suspect in question had already fled, the police were handed the video surveillance footage.
In another instance, a suspect attacked his neighbor from behind with a bottle at 3:20 in the morning on May 9, in Manchester Square. According to the police report, the suspect, who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, later apologized to his neighbor. A few hours later, in the Hollywood Hills, one neighbor knocked another to the ground in an apartment complex.
Crime has fallen dramatically across the city since the shutdown went into effect in March. But other nuisances have skyrocketed. The number of times the LAPD has had to respond to a party or raucous gathering has more than doubled recently.
When it comes to neighborly disputes, the 77th St., Southwest, and Olympic police stations were the top responders to calls for service, with 351, 349 and 340 calls respectively so far this year. Those precincts collectively cover neighborhoods such as Historic South Central, Leimert Park, Koreatown, East Hollywood, Westlake and Downtown. Those are some of the most densely populated areas in the city, bringing quarantined neighbors too close for comfort.
Though relations between neighbors might be getting testy, relations between roommates appear to have stabilized. During March, crime reports in which the “suspect was a roommate” were up almost 50% from the same period a year earlier, at 124. But in April, the number decreased 15.5% from its March high, according to LAPD data.
How we did it: We examined data from the LAPD on service calls involving neighbors and LAPD data on crimes labeled with the code for ‘suspect was a roommate’ from Jan. 1 – May 9, 2020. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.
LAPD data only reflect 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. On occasion, the 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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