The movie The Purge is a frightening dystopian promise of what tomorrow could look like if we give in to our baser human instincts. The premise of the movie is that violent crime has gotten so bad in America that by 2022, the government has instituted an annual 12-hour window during which any crime can be committed without repercussion.
In Los Angeles this year – eerily close to 2022 – some people are saying the city seems like a Purge-like dystopian nightmare come to life. Remarks from an LAPD Detective warning tourists away from the city have lit a social media firestorm. So what’s really happening? Here’s what we know.
LAPD Detective Issues Dire Warning to Tourists
A Los Angeles police detective has recently lit social media aflame with his comments on how Los Angeles has become like The Purge. CBSLA reports, “‘My message to anyone thinking about coming to Los Angeles, especially during the holiday season, is don’t,’ Jamie McBride, the head of the LA Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, said in a television interview.” Fox 11 adds, “A Los Angeles Police Department detective is warning people not to come to the city as incidents of smash-and-grab and follow-home robberies have risen in the area recently.
… In an appearance on FOX News Monday, McBride told anchors that he’s, ‘telling people ‘don’t visit because we don’t think we can keep you safe right now,’ comparing Los Angeles to the movie The Purge, ‘but instead of 24 hours to commit your crime, they have 365 days.'”
Social media users have dubbed it Purge 365, and McBride blames it on legislative actions like Proposition 47, which changed sentencing guidelines, along with California’s zero-bail policy. McBride says the policies put criminals back on the street, “faster than the officers can finish the report.”
Incarceration in California is at an all-time low, partly in answer to concerns during the start of the COVID19 pandemic that crowded jails would become deadly breeding grounds of the virus. Smash-and-grab robberies made headlines in November across Los Angeles and police are looking to reinstitute cash bail now that vaccines are available to combat the pandemic.
LAPD Chief of Police Tries to Quell Firestorm
The rise of violent crime in Los Angeles is a disturbing trend, mirrored across the United States. However, it’s not as bad as McBride made it out to be, according to LAPD Chief of Police Michael Moore.
Moore reassured the public, per CBSLA, saying, “It’s not out of control. It’s not a spiral that we’ve lost control over. It is important that we not have a sense of acquiescing or just lackadaisical approach to this. We’re calling out the severity of it.”
The chief added, “I believe tourists coming to Los Angeles are safe. Certainly, as safe here as any other portion of the country.”
LAPD has recently come down hard on judges who they believe are handing out excessively lenient sentences and setting up a firestorm of criminals who aren’t facing proper accountability. Vowing to tackle the rise in violent crime, the LAPD is seeking $213 million in additional funding, which brings their annual budget to a staggering nearly $2 billion.
Pandemic-era leniency designed to keep the jails from overcrowding is mixing with desperation from a year of economic instability. Even though it may not be the Purge McBride is promising, it’s certainly a perfect storm of problems that LAPD is vowing to tackle.
Crime in 2021
Unfortunately, Los Angeles is not alone. As more people become desperate from two years of death and uncertainty, violent crime is on the rise. Psych.org reports, “In 2019, following a years-long decline, crime rates were flat or at all-time lows nationwide. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and a very different pattern emerged. Though major crimes dropped overall, violent crime surged. Across the U.S., rates of gun violence rose by 30 percent. Nearly 5,000 additional homicides occurred in 2020 compared to 2019—the biggest year-to-year jump in murders since 1960. Several cities reported record-high number of homicides, and non-fatal shootings went up, too.”
What drives the rise in violent crime is more complex than just desperation from the pandemic. A lack of mental health services, availability of deadly weapons, and a variety of factors add up to create the surge. In order to combat the crime, cities across the country are scrambling to understand the factors and drive behind the rise. Increasing budgets and targeting solutions towards communities who are at greater risk of being victims of these crimes is all a part of the process to getting the trend going in the right direction.
Unfortunately, as the goal continues to be uncrowded jails and mental health infrastructure in the country remains a low priority, the perfect storm brews in formerly peaceful cities all over the United States. We might not be living in Purge times, but it’s a concerning sign of things to come.