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Data Aside, L.A. County DA Gascón Faces 'Tough-On-Crime' Election

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón rose to his position in 2020 amid collective outrage with the criminal justice system and on a mandate to rein in the police. Now, he must tap into fear, as there is a perception that Los Angeles is less safe and his policies have made it so, even though that argument is largely unsupported by data.  “I think that this race now for 2024 has gone back to, for a lot of people, law and order, lock ’em up,” Gascón said. The 11 candidates challenging Gascón include judges, attorneys in his own office and former federal prosecutors, nearly all running to the right of Gascón, the New York Times reports. The first round of the election is in March. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will face each other in November.

Even as Gascón’s opponents paint a picture of out-of-control crime, the data indicate that Los Angeles, like much of f the U.S., is becoming safer in crucial categories of violent crime, such as murder, as the social and economic disruptions of the pandemic recede. In the city of Los Angeles, which accounts for about 40% of the population of Los Angeles County, most violent crimes are down substantially compared with 2021, Gascón’s first year in office. Property crimes, including burglary and car theft, have risen, the only crime tracked by the FBI that has gone up in 2023. “We can talk to people about data, and that doesn’t really resonate,” Gascón said. “So I gave up on talking about data. I’ll throw it in there to sprinkle, but I immediately try to connect with people on a human level. Acknowledging their feelings, because their feelings are real.”


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