Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Good News is Bad News (LA Style)

Found this story on the front page of today's LA Times metro section:
Summer slayings in L.A. fewest since '67 summer of love
By Joel Rubin | 2:00 PM PDT
LAPD Chief William J. Bratton says there were 84 slayings in the city from June through August. He adds that all categories of violent and property crimes are down from last year.
Bringing up the summer of love is a little weird, but that weirdness pales in comparison with the implication that it's good news that there's was only about a murder a day in my new home town over the summer. Not that Chicago was any better, but I had the same sense of wonderment there every time I was supposed to be delighted that the death rate had dropped from the spectacularly awful to the merely unacceptable.

Yes, people in Baghdad would love to have LA's murder rate. But then people in Baghdad would love to have a lot of things that don't involve explosions in public places. We should probably set our standards higher (here and there, really).

A few interesting/depressing facts, many of them from the very good website that the Times maintains for homicides in LA County. In the county (pop. 10m, which includes a lot more than the city), there have been 485 murders so far this year. A whopping 85% of those killed have been men (most of those apparently between the usual ages of 15 and 40). Here's a breakdown of the homicides by race (comparing the actual percentages to the percentages one would expect if homicides were independent of race).

Asians account for 5.1% of total homicides, 38.3% the amount one would expect.

Whites account for 8%, 29.2% the expected amount.

Blacks account for 30.1%, 313.5% the expected amount.

Latinos account for 56% of homicides, 118.3% of the expected amount.

Note: A likely thing skewing this is age. LA County's Latino population is generally substantially younger than the other groups, especially non-Hispanic whites. Since homicide victims (and killers) tend to fall in that 15-40 age group, it's a meaningful point. If anybody has current demographic information, please let me know.

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At 2:11 PM , Blogger Emily said...

This has nothing to do with the sober and responsible piece of sociological commentary above. I just don't know where to indicate my confusion about the absence of Palin-related inappropriate commentary on this blog. I mean, where else does one go for mean-spirited political snark about Alaskan rednecks with pregnant teenagers? I suppose I can understand leaving the softballs for lesser observers, but still.


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