Law Enforcement and Crime Will Play A Major Role in the Midterm Elections


Seventy-eight percent of Americans worry about crime and violence a great deal or a fair amount, the same as health care, the number one issue-Gallup.

If the Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives, it may be predicated on how their understanding of fear of crime and solutions that most Americans believe are in their best interest.


A reader asks if crime will be an important issue in the midterm elections. My response is meant to be non-political; there are politicians on both sides of the aisle advocating traditional and progressive views of crime and punishment.

We’ve been in a heated debate for the last three years as to the public’s assessment of crime and perceptions of safety. Critics of traditional or conservative approaches to crime and the Trump administration insist that we’ve never lived in safer times. There are articles bemoaning citizen fear of crime as being irrational, Slate.Com.

Statistically speaking, they are right. Crime overall has been down for decades per two federal reports (FBI-National Crime Survey), Crime in America.

But violent crime per the FBI increased in 2015 and 2016 (it was flat for 2017 but rose in two categories), with endless reports from major cities suggesting that violence is rampant. There are a wide variety of statistics (below) stating that Americans are concerned, if not fearful.

And there is the juxtaposition; Trump and his allies (including some Democrats) run on a platform of being tough on crime and supporting law enforcement. Their opposition insists that we have to reform the criminal justice system. They believe that Americans have never been safer. They insist that dramatically reducing incarceration protects us without acknowledging that five out of six released prisoners go on to commit new crimes, Crime in America.

With 68 percent of Americans believing that crime is increasing (Gallup), who do you think will win regarding perceptions of disorder?

Article Title: They Say Crime Is Down in Chicago. Tell That to This Teen With a Bullet Hole in His Back.

“One math lesson endlessly demonstrated in Chicago’s tougher neighborhoods is that the tiniest shift in a gunman’s aim translates to an ever larger change in a bullet’s trajectory that can make the difference between life and death.”

“Sixteen-year-old Michael of the South Side learned this firsthand as an innocent bystander on Sept. 10,  moments after he and his classmates left Chatham Academy, which had just completed an active shooter drill such as have been conducted in schools everywhere following the carnage at Columbine and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook and Parkland and too many other places”

“Unlike those other schools, the far greater danger for kids of Chicago’s less affluent neighborhoods is the streets outside. The threat remains constant and unnerving even though police recovered more than 5,000 illegal guns in the first half of the year and violent crime is in decline. Homicides are down 20 percent so far this year. Shootings are down 18 percent,” The Daily Beast.

New Data From Pew

Data from Pew provides a list of national priorities based on the support of Democrats and Republicans. At first glance, it’s obvious that the parties do not agree on much.

There are two issues that members of both parties concur, concern over violent crime and drug addiction. Race and crime plus gun violence are huge issues for Democrats.

If you take a look at the numbers, it seems inconceivable that crime would not be at the top of the list of voter concerns.

National Crime Priorities


Other Surveys

78 percent of Americans worry about crime and violence a great deal or a fair amount, the same as health care, the number one issue-Gallup.

56 percent of Americans believe that crime needs to be reduced-Pew.

68 percent of Americans believe that crime is increasing-Gallup.

Two-thirds of gun owners say protection from crime is a major reason they own a gun-Pew, Crime in America.

Per Gallup, 85 percent of Americans either have a great deal or some confidence in law enforcement. The media and Congress are at the bottom of the ratings, Law Enforcement Today.

The #MeToo movement is demanding accountability for offenders throughout the country, Medium.

new survey commissioned by the Foundation for Safeguarding Justice finds opposition to proposals in Congress that would reduce federal criminal penalties for drug traffickers and allow the release of prisoners to “home confinement.” Three out of four people surveyed (74 percent) said that they oppose proposals that reduce penalties for criminals involved in the trafficking of heroin, fentanyl, and similar drugs. The foundation was created by the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys (NAAUSA), who prosecute criminal cases in federal courts.


Most Americans are concerned about crime and perceptions of safety for themselves, their families and their communities. Crime will have a major impact on the midterm elections.

Candidate Trump understood this when he ran for office. In the midst of unprecedented criticism of law enforcement (some of it justified), he understood the perceptions of Americans as to crime and justice issues.

President Trump and his supporters haven’t skipped a beat for their overall support of law enforcement and an understanding of the crime issue and the concerns of most Americans. Many Democrats support this view. You can suggest that they are playing to the politics of fear while others believe they are responding to the legitimate concerns of most Americans.

If the Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives, it may be predicated on their understanding of fear of crime, and solutions that most Americans believe are in their best interest.


I use The Crime Report for cited articles.

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. You can contact me at [email protected]