In 2013, something changed on the streets of Los Angeles. Police officers began making fewer arrests. The following year, the Los Angeles Police Department’s arrest numbers dipped even lower and continued to fall, dropping by 25% from 2013 to 2015.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department also saw significant drops in arrests during that period, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The statewide numbers are just as striking: Police recorded the lowest number of arrests in nearly 50 years, according to the California attorney general’s office, with about 1.1 million arrests in 2015 compared with 1.5 million in 2006.
It is unclear why officers are making fewer arrests. Some in law enforcement cite diminished manpower and changes in deployment strategies. Others say officers have lost motivation in the face of increased scrutiny — from the public as well as their supervisors.
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The picture is further complicated by Proposition 47, a November 2014 ballot measure that downgraded some drug and property felonies to misdemeanors. Many police officers say an arrest isn’t worth the time it takes to process when the suspect will spend at most a few months in jail.