an officer exit his automobile prior to conducting a search in Ventura. (Photo: glen Highcove, via Shutterstock)

In so late July, the Office that the Attorney basic released Homicide in California 2020, its yearly report on the state’s murders.

You are watching: How many homicides in california 2020

Media outlets in California and elsewhere quickly covered the report. The story, targeting a “31 percent increase in murders,” was reported by a selection of news organizations. Lock included selection of print and also broadcast media: the The San Francisco Chronicle,  Fox News, AP, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo everyday Journal, KTVI News just Area, NBC just Area, ABC10 News Sacramento, KPBS san Diego, Vacaville Reporter, Redding Searchlight and  Axios. Not surprisingly, the report sustained backers of the recall drive versus Gov. Newsom.


California homicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants, 1990-2020. (Source: State department of Justice)

Republican talk present host Larry Elder attributed the “31% increase” come a “soft-on-crime ethos we check out emanating native Sacramento and also from countless of our significant cities.” Kevin Faulconer blamed Newsom because that California’s “13-year high in homicides.” various other Newsom doubters such as Kerry Jackson that the Pacific research Institute lay blame of the “31% increase” on the governor.

But the numbers space misleading, and also the “31 percent increase” stems native the executive an overview in the report, although without explanation, context and historical perspective. While it is crucial to monitor the variety of homicides that happen in specific years, year-by-year comparisons of life numbers space misleading, because such comparisons execute not take into account populace changes and also distribution.

Most importantly, the number most heavily reflect statistics native California’s many populace counties, suggesting the boost is continuous statewide. In fact, practically two-dozen California counties had actually no murders at all, according the report.


Homicide prices per 100,000 citizens in five significant California counties, 1990-2020. (Source: State room of Justice)

Another issue: California’s DoJ only accepts reports that “actual homicides” as defined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime reporting Handbook, and that data doesn’t necessarily jibe with what individual law enforcement organ report.

The crime rate, an integral part of examining crime statistics, is characterized as “the number of crimes reported to regulation enforcement agencies every 100,000 total population … calculate by separating the number of reported crimes by the full population; the an outcome is multiplied by 100,000.”

The state report listed that the “2,202 homicides critical year to be 523 more than in 2019, if the rate enhanced by a comparable margin — indigenous 4.2 come 5.5 homicides every 100,000 people.”

In a huge state prefer California, where the populace is spread unevenly and also county-by-county thickness often is significantly different, the only method to get as true a snapshot as possible is to calculate and also compare crime rates.

When the crime rate is provided for homicides and also broken down over counties and years, the story the headlines and also partisan political leaders tell starts to wither.

The room of Finance approximates that 39,782,419 people live in California. That populace is spread throughout 58 counties, the biggest being Los Angeles County v 10,135,614 people, much more than three times the populace of mountain Diego County, the second largest county with 3,331,279 people.


Homicide prices per 100,000 inhabitants in five additional California counties, 1990-2020. (Source: State department of Justice)

Along with Los Angeles and also San Diego, there space eight an ext counties with population over 1 million. There room 11 an ext counties with populations over 400,000. Not just do most California counties have actually a population of under 200,000, twenty-two counties are residence to less than 100,000 people each, with Modoc (9,563), Sierra (3,200), and also Alpine (1,146) every in the four-digits.

Given the obvious disparities in California county populations, the is clear that a reporting a single, statewide homicide crime price does no fit all.

While California’s homicide rate overall for 2020 is 5.5 per hundred thousands people, in the 22 counties through a population of under 100,000, the 2020 homicide price was 0.0.

That doesn’t average that this counties no experience any homicides, they go — 41 to it is in exact. It’s simply that the numbers — reportedly — were not huge enough to display up together a statistic top top the state report.

The 22-county 2020 homicide count of 41 is up from 2019 (40) and also nearly double of 2018 (22), but damaged down among the 22 counties, we see that the details in the counties matter.

A great example is Mendocino County end the duration from 2015 to 2020.

According to the state, the complete homicides because that those years were 6 in 2015, eight in 2016, 4 in 2017, 13 in 2018, three in 2019, and six in 2020.

Using the figures above, one can say that Mendocino ar homicides double from 2019 to 2020. One could also report the 2020 homicides were slightly lower than the 6.6 per six-year average, or that the 2020 homicide count is much less than fifty percent that the 2018.

But Mendocino observers looked at the six-year homicide run and thought something was clearly hinky, citing local regulation enforcement sources.


Homicide prices per 100,000 residents in five an ext California counties, 1990-2020 (Source: State department of Justice)

In April, the Mendocino Voice reported, “There to be 14 deaths in Mendocino ruled homicide in 2020, 10 of i beg your pardon the Sheriff’s Office handle with, contrasted to 8 in 2019, 18 in 2018 (the Hart family members homicides accounted because that 6 the those), 8 in 2017, 12 in 2016, 11 in 2015 … according to the Sheriff’s room figures.”

The numbers in reported to the Voice by the Mendocino ar Sheriff’s department are higher than what Mendocino County reported to the California department of Justice, and also for an excellent reason.

Everything pertaining to Mendocino and also smaller counties likewise applies to California’s top 20 most populous counties – Los Angeles, mountain Diego, Orange, Riverside, mountain Bernardino, Santa Clara, Alameda, Sacramento, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, mountain Francisco, Ventura, mountain Joaquin, mountain Mateo, Stanislaus, Sonoma, Tulare, Santa Barbara, and also Monterey.

There is no uniformity between the top-20 counties on the difference between homicide prices in 2019 and also 2020.

 Comparing homicide or any crime statistics year-by-year offers us no idea the what long or even short terms crime patterns are.

In 6 counties, there was a far-ranging increase in the homicide price (3-plus points), while nine counties saw a slight rise (1 to 2 points). One experienced no change over the two years and four report a decrease.

The biggest increase was no in Los Angeles County, which only saw a slim uptick in homicides, however in the main Valley counties that Kern, Fresno, and San Joaquin.

Finally, comparing homicide or any type of crime statistics year-by-year gives us no idea of what lengthy or even quick terms crime patterns are. Homicide data is most helpful when that is gift historically, ideally over numerous decades.

Looking in ~ homicide prices in California and also many the its counties, there is without doubt an uptick from 2011 to 2020, despite after two separate years of remarkable decline.

However, pull ago to 2001 and also the homicide rate is moderately greater than it was in 2020. Advancement a few years come 2006, when there to be a statewide run in murders, and there is a significant decline in homicides between these two points.

The homicide rate void becomes a chasm when one goes ago to the 1990s, especially throughout the thick of the battle on Drugs and also gang wars. In 1990, the statewide homicide price was 12.1 every 100,000. In just two years, it had actually climbed come 12.9. In Los Angeles County, which to be driving the statewide rate, there to be 20 homicides per 100,000 in 1990. Two years later it peaked come 21.1.

However, ~ the 1993 peak, the state (and county) homicide rates started come drop. As the county-by-county graphs show, the decline was not uniform amongst the counties, nor did it take place in one constant decline.

In part counties there were years as soon as the homicide rate jumped. Immediately, these jumps are reported as “spikes.” However, when looked at end time, it becomes apparent that what we are seeing is a short-lived blip and also not a permanent trend.

Unlike automobile theft, fraud, or robbery, homicide is most often an irrational act, one born of passion and committed on impulse. Life events such as a partnership break-up, discovery of a partner’s infidelity, ns of a job, a business failure, or the boosted pressure the a pandemic have the right to drive people to kill.

When human being do kill, lock most regularly murder someone the they know. The A.G.’s Homicide Report claims that 40.7% of world murdered are killed by a member of the immediate family, a friend, one ex-, an employer, one employee, or a fellow gang member. Only 35.6% the homicides space committed by a stranger.

Most homicides (40.8%) room the end result of one argument. The vast bulk of the murders in these cases occur amongst friends or family, particularly in situations of murder resulting from domestic violence. One-third that homicides connected to disagreements occur in the home of the perpetrator or the victim, complied with by a parking lot.

Gang related killings comprise 31.1% of homicides. As with arguments, most people affiliated in gang-related homicides understand each other (60.9%).

Compared come argument-based and also gang-related homicides, the two crime associated homicides the most people fear – murder occurring during a rob (7.8%) or rape (8.5%) – are relatively rare.

None of this is come downplay the seriousness the homicide, especially for the victims and their families.

But by knowledge the numbers, we deserve to save oneself from negative policy decisions based upon in-the-moment politics — decisions that deserve to take years to repair.

See more: Solved! How Long Do Gas Hot Water Heaters Last ? Can A Hot Water Heater Last 20 Years

Want come see an ext stories prefer this? sign up because that The Roundup, the complimentary daily newsletter about California national politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Remain up to day on the news you have to know.