California's homicide rate fell nearly 16% last year, state report shows

South Los Angeles, CA - June 01: A cops hold up yellow tape from a double homicide shooting in Exposition Park on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in South Los Angeles, CA. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)
An LAPD officer holds up yellow tape at the scene of a double homicide in Exposition Park on June 1 in South Los Angeles. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)

The violent crime rate in California was up 3% last year compared with 2022, according to to new data released this week, but the state saw a significant drop in the number of homicides, continuing a recent downward trend.

A report from state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s office counted 1,892 homicides in California last year, compared with 2,206 in 2022, a nearly 16% decrease in the homicide rate per 100,000 people.

Guns continue to be the most commonly used weapons in homicides, having a role in 73% of killings in the state last year, according to the attorney general's report.

In 2023, roughly half of victims were killed by a friend or acquaintance, while 29% were killed by a stranger and 15% by a spouse, parent or child, the report said. Of the victims whose ethnicity was identified, 47% were Hispanic, 27% were Black and 17% were white.

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“The data released today is essential for understanding, preventing, and combating crime. I encourage local partners and law enforcement to review the data and recommit to taking action,” Bonta said in a statement.

“While crime rates remain significantly below their historical highs, there is always more work to be done to protect public safety in our communities,” he said.

In Los Angeles County, homicides increased 8% last year from 195 to 212, according to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s 2023 Homicide Report. Ninety-six of the cases in 2023 were solved.

The data show that 155 killings in Los Angeles were committed using firearms, 100 of which were gang related and four of which involved domestic violence. Ten slayings took place among the county’s homeless population.

Across the state, law enforcement agencies recovered roughly 137,400 crime guns with identifiable serial numbers and 36,000 crime guns without serial numbers between 2021 and 2023.

The Crime Guns in California 2023 report also showed that 34,419 of the serialized guns recovered could be traced to a total of 1,597 distinct California firearm dealers. On average, each dealer sold or transferred 21.5 firearms that were later used in a crime, the report said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.