Mirroring national trends, violent crime appears to be declining in Los Angeles County, says Cheryl Maxson, director of USC’s Center on Crime and Social Control.

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Since 1990 the countywide rate of arrests for such violent crimes as murder, felony assault, forcible rape and robbery has dropped 20 percent for adults and nearly 30 percent for juveniles. Across the county, the violent crime rate among juveniles is just 4 percent higher than that for adults. In 1990, the difference was 14 percent.
However, the rate of juvenile violence in Los Angeles County far exceeds that in California and the nation as a whole. In 1992, the crime rate per 100,000 juveniles was 458 in the United States, 633 in California and 913 in Los Angeles County. Meanwhile, the proportion of homicides that are gang-related has increased from 15 percent in 1984 to 45 percent in 1995.
Consistently, the proportion of street violence grew slightly across the five-county region. Ten years ago most homicides occurred in the home; but in 1994 more than half of Southern California homicides occurred in the street, far and away the most common place to meet a violent end, while the home was the site of only 20 percent of homicides.
“The trend appears to be related to gang violence,” Maxson says. “Gangs and juveniles are more likely to commit homicides in the street than in the home.”
Contrary to a commonplace perception, most homicide victims share the same ethnicity as their killers, with black-on-black, Latino-on-Latino and white-on-white violence accounting for 73 percent of Southern Calif-ornia’s homicides. In only 25 percent of cases do the perpetrator and victim come from different races.
“The fear of crime and violence is frequently fueled by the perception that people of other ethnicities are a threat,” Maxson says, “but the fact is that the person most likely to kill you is the person who looks the most like you.”

Arrest Rates for Violent Crimes
Los Angeles County, per 100,000

1990 1994 % of Change
Juveniles 1065 773 -27%
Adults 916 744 -19%

"The fear of crime is fueled by the perception that people of other ethnicities are a threat."

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