As commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s data-driven Compstat division, Capt. Paul Vernon’s job is to track crime trends in L.A. — highlighting problems and pinpointing solutions in order to optimize the department’s effectiveness.

It has not been easy this year, he said, as crime — like so much in 2020 — went absolutely haywire.

Homicides, shootings and car thefts spiked, while robberies, rapes and lesser property crimes dropped off. The swings were dramatic, too, with killings hitting a decade high after years of sustained reductions, and shootings increasing nearly 40%. Meanwhile, robberies declined by 17%, and reported rapes fell 25%.

The COVID-19 pandemic — which has kept many businesses closed and many people at home — was clearly a major factor, though analysts say the full explanation is more complex.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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