The Detective: A car, a child, a dangerous situation

A rundown of recent criminal activity in Los Angeles

Illustration of a young boy in a car


Here are some recent anomalies in Los Angeles Police Department data found by the Detective, our data-crawling robot, and aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Taylor Mills. This period covers May 10-16, 2021. 


? It is always disconcerting when someone is found in a vehicle while drunk or on drugs. It becomes even more worrying when a child is also in the car. An incident in the community of North Hills on May 12 ratcheted the alarm level even higher: The person behind the wheel was a law enforcement officer. It is not clear what agency the person works for, but Los Angeles Police Department data shows that a 5-year-old boy was in the vehicle. Since the department made its data publicly available in 2010, only 41 cases with a jailer or officer identified as a suspect have appeared. This marked the first time an officer-involved child negligence case has been reported.


? Hate and bias incidents have been spreading across Los Angeles this year. The distressing trend continued on May 14 in Koreatown. According to police, a 44-year-old man was approached by a stranger brandishing a knife. The unidentified individual threatened to kill the victim, who police said was targeted because he is a Muslim. The LAPD identified the incident as a hate crime. Of the 184 hate crimes reported in Los Angeles between Jan. 1 and May 16, three were described as anti-Islamic or anti-Muslim. 


? A disturbing encounter happened at around 9:30 p.m. on May 11 in Boyle Heights. According to police, a driver attempted to run through a crowded intersection. The LAPD said 11 victims were targeted and multiple people were in the car, though a reason for the attack was not clear. Aggravated assaults involving vehicles are common in Los Angeles, with 731 incidents this year, though generally there are far fewer victims.


? Firefighters face many challenges. Being struck at an airport is usually not one of them. But that is what happened on May 16. Details are thin, but according to the LAPD, six firefighters were kicked at Terminal 2 in LAX in the neighborhood of Westchester. The person who attacked the five male and one female firefighter was arrested. It is unclear what caused the incident.


With this attack a total of 21 firefighters have been the target of a crime this year. This isn’t the first time first responders have been attacked at LAX. Three other batteries at the airport have been reported by the LAPD, including an incident in 2019, when two firefighters were spit on at Terminal 6.


How we did it: At Crosstown, we examine publicly available crime 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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