LA murders are down, but homeless homicide victims increased

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FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, shows a homeless camp in downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, at a news conference that in half of 2019's homeless homicide cases, the perpetrator was someone also believed to be experiencing homeless. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

LOS ANGELES, CA – Even as murders in Los Angeles have decreased in recent years, the number of homeless homicide victims has gone up, authorities said.

Overall, homicides in the city dipped from 260 in 2018 to 253 in 2019, city officials announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, the number of homeless people who were murdered rose from 40 to 42 from 2018 to 2019.

NPR first reported the trend in Los Angeles homeless homicide victims last month.

The city's homeless population rose 16% to 36,300 between 2018 and 2019, according to the most recent count.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday at a news conference that in half of 2019's homeless homicide cases, the perpetrator was someone also believed to be experiencing homelessness.

The chief said the department works with other city agencies to get homeless people access to shelters and other resources to get them off the streets. Combating homelessness has been one of Moore's priorities in his tenure. He has said law enforcement and arrests are not the solution.

It's not clear if this is the city's highest number of homeless murder victims. Los Angeles Police Capt. Gisselle Espinoza said in an email the department only recently started categorizing specific homeless crimes.

Moore and other city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, touted other 2019 crime reductions Wednesday. Citywide violent crime is down 5.5%, and property crime dipped 7.4%.