The Detective: Officials as victims

Anomalous LAPD crime reports from June 15 - June 21, 2020 

Here are a couple of recent anomalies in Los Angeles Police Department data found by the Detective, our data-crawling robot, and aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Kylie Storm. 

Illustration of a figure in black running with a purse, money flying out, female figure reaching out behind the figure.


?  On June 21, a suspect in Broadway-Manchester pointed a laser at a plane or helicopter. The victim was described as being a Los Angeles police officer. The crime, which took place on 88th street, is one of 51 incidents to use the MO code – police-speak for “modus operandi,” and shorthand for describing what happened in a crime incident – for “suspect points laser at plane/helicopter,” since the department started making its data publicly available in 2010. 


?  Recently, another rare victim code popped up: Victim was a public official. A hat-wearing suspect verbally threatened a 63-year-old public official on June 16 in Rancho Park. This code has been used a total of 90 times in the last eleven years.


?  Some crime codes are straight out of the movies. At 5:20 p.m. on June 16 in Vermont-Slauson, a juvenile suspect attempted to snatch a 30-year-old woman’s purse. Despite attempted robbery being a fairly common crime in Los Angeles, the crime code for “attempt purse snatching” has only been used 50 times since 2010.


The suspect used a lookout and strong-armed the victim, but was unsuccessful in stealing the purse. The suspect and the victim knew each other. Which seems awkward.


?  In the first six months of 2020, the LAPD recorded 5,361 incidents of what is termed “intimate partner – simple assault.” An incident on June 18 in Green Meadows had a slight twist; a woman’s current or former partner (the report does not state which) knocked her to the ground and threw an object at her. It was classified with the code “crime related to insurance,” which has been used 91 times since 2010.


How we did it: At Crosstown, we examine publicly available crime report data from multiple Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies. We have a robot on the team called the Detective that scans the LAPD publicly available data for anomalies. LAPD officers tag most crime reports in their system with MO codes, for “modus operandi,” Latin for operating method or style. The MO codes are shorthand for describing what happened in a crime incident.


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