Here being the Eastside neighborhoods covered by the LAPD’s Northeast Division, which stretches from Echo Park and Silver Lake to Highland Park and Eagle Rock. The number of homicides reported through November totaled 25. That’s up from 18 murders during the same period last year, according to police stats. That 39% increase in murder stands out against an 8% decline citywide for the same period. It’s also in stark contrast to the neighboring Hollenbeck Division, which covers Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights, that reported 14 fewer killings. Murders were up in the Rampart Division, but only by one.
Not surprisingly, most of the murders were gang related. Much of the deadly violence also came early in the year, with Northeast chalking up 12 homicides by the end of March, said William A. Murphy, who took over as captain of Northeast in April.
Several of those killing involved dramatic shoot-outs involving the Avenues and Drew Street gangs in Glassell Park and Highland Park, including one gun battle that forced the closure of the 2 Freeway. In June, a massive raid by local and federal officers lead to the arrest of scores of suspected Avenues gang members , which Murphy credits for moderating violent crime for the remainder of the year. In fact, violent crime – which includes rape, robbery and aggravates assaults as well as homicide – is down about 9% so far this year in Northeast.
Still, murder is what catches people’s attention, putting pressure on Murphy and Northeast’s 279-sworn officers to show results. That means, said Murphy, targeting gangs, which are responsible for about two-third of the city’s murders.
“If we can control gang violence,” Murphy said, “we can control homicides.“