Why Violent Crime Increased
Rising violence in the US for 2015 and 2016 is well documented by the FBI and Gallup, Crime in America. Fear of crime (per Gallup) is also at an all-time high.
Newspaper headline: U.S. sees biggest single-year jump in violent crime in 25 years.
A 20 percent increase in homicides over the past two years is not trivial. We’ve got what looks like a serious problem here.” New York Times
But when you read the latest edition from the Marshall Project and the Brennan Center (both one-sided advocacy projects), there are endless excuses and rationalizations as to how a 20 percent rise in homicides over the last two years is meaningless.
Why is it difficult to be honest when it comes to violent crime?
Has advocacy made it impossible to have an authentic conversation about crime?
I did not vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton, and I have no connections to the Trump presidency or organizations supporting him. I’m still evaluating my support for the President.
But I suspect that advocacy groups feel the need to refute anything that supports the president’s statements or anti-crime agenda.
But Why Distort Hard Data?
With hard data from the FBI and Gallup as to crime and fear of crime, why deny the obvious?
Look, I understand that the president’s anti-crime agenda is not supportive of The Brennan Center and endless advocacy organizations, but are purposeful distortions of hard data even close to being ethical?
Calls for sentencing reform or programs for offenders (I support both) remain necessary regardless of the data. The criminal justice system has limits; we can’t be all things to all people. Improvements in the application of justice are necessary, especially in law enforcement. We simply need to do better.
Yes, we had an almost continuous decrease in violent crime before violence flattened in 2014 and rose by substantial amounts in 2015 and 2016 per the FBI.
But to the tens of thousands of victims of increasing violent crime, telling them that, statistically, they have never lived in safer times seems uncouth and disrespectful.
Advocates Respond to Increasing Crime
The new data shows crime remains near all-time lows across the country,” said Ronal Serpas, chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders ….
False narratives about a national crime wave will not help,” Serpas said. “They make it harder for law enforcement to implement proven tactics that address the real issues, instead of the myths.
But Law Enforcement Leaders “…is a project of the Brennan Center,” (but they don’t acknowledge that link) thus recognizing that the public doesn’t trust advocates, but they will listen to law enforcement “experts,” see Crime in America.
…the Brennan Center’s Justice Program said in a statement. “Crime remains near historic lows, with an uptick in murder and violence driven in part by problems in some of our nation’s largest cities,” The Crime Report.
So Who Is Right?
Google it. Don’t take my word or the statements of biased advocacy organizations trying to downplay violent crime.
Search “rising violent crime,” or “violent crime increases” or “violent crime,” and judge for yourself what local media sources are saying as to what’s happening in their cities or states.
The last time I searched, there were hundreds of articles documenting increasing violent crime in cities and states. Obviously, not all cited increases, there is a mix of results, but most did. See Crime in America for examples.
So Why The Increase?
First, no one can say precisely why, in the same way no one can explain the twenty years of almost continuous crime reductions that preceded recent increases.
Some suggest that rising crime is due to increases in cities (i.e., Chicago, Baltimore) thus implying that escalation is not national. Statistically, they may be correct, but rising crime and fear of crime is a national problem with profound implications.
But it’s my opinion (backed by data) that cops are holding back and not being nearly as aggressive as they once were.
For decades the criminological community suggested that law enforcement tactics were almost meaningless as to controlling crime. But then we had Ferguson and Baltimore where cops were harshly accused with endless wrongdoings (and charged with murder).
Investigations proved no wrongdoing, there were no convictions, but outraged cops throughout the nation decided to back off levels of aggressiveness, and violent crime increased, Crime in America.
But once again, this narrative doesn’t fit the agenda of biased advocacy organizations, who often see cops as brutal thugs, unworthy of consideration.
Cops (and correctional officers-parole and probation agents) are demoralized to the point that retaining existing officers and getting new recruits is becoming impossible.
Families are insisting that cops leave, and exit as soon as possible. In the meantime, officers are simply laying low until they figure out what this all means.
Negativity Has An Impact
72% say officers in their department are now less willing to stop and question suspicious persons.
Overall, more than eight-in-ten (86%) say police work is harder today as a result of high-profile, negative incidents, Crime in America-Policing
Lacking social indicators as to poverty or jobs (unemployment is currently at an all-time low), the only explanation for the rise in violent crime is the morale of cops and other justice system employees who are less aggressive in their jobs.
Some point out an unwillingness of communities to engage law enforcement because of distrust, but those conditions existed when crime was at record lows.
Violent crime has immense implications for cities, states, and the country. Ignoring or rationalizing recent increases is journalistically, fundamentally and morally wrong.
It’s time to re-energize discussions with affected communities as to what they want and need from law enforcement, see Crime in America. It’s also time to understand that the endless abuse or stereotypes of 900,000 cops is not in society’s best interest.
Protest is a constitutional right, but discrimination is simply counterproductive.
Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Thirty-five years of speaking 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. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.