by Conor Friedersdorf
It's safer to live in Southern California than it's been for a generation:
For the first time in more than four decades, Los Angeles is on track to end the year with fewer than 300 killings, a milestone in a steady decline of homicides that has changed the quality of life in many neighborhoods and defied predictions that a bad economy would inexorably lead to higher crime. As of mid-afternoon on Sunday, the Los Angeles Police Department had tallied 291 homicides in 2010. The city is likely to record the fewest number of killings since 1967, when its population was almost 30% smaller.
Strikingly, homicides in the city have dropped by about one-third since 2007, the last full year before the economic downturn, according to a Times' analysis of coroner records. Throughout the rest of the county, which is patrolled by the L.A. County sheriff and individual cities' police departments, homicides during the same period tumbled by nearly 40%.
I still remember media coverage of the street war between the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles, a late 1980s visit from Indiana relatives who asked if we worried about getting shot on the freeway, and the awful spectre of the 1992 riots. The statistics above tell the story a city where almost everyone is less wary and afraid than they once were.