A powerful essay from the Wall Street Journal noting the importance of solving crime along with that of preventing it.
Despite controversies like Ferguson, police are better at stopping African-Americans at random than at halting an epidemic of murder
In predominantly African-American neighborhoods of U.S. cities, far too many killers have gotten away with far too many crimes for far too long, fueling a disastrous murder epidemic. Solving these murders and other serious crimes of violence in black communities should be a top goal for law enforcement—and it deserves to take priority over much more widely discussed issues such as racial profiling and the excessive use of force by police in black neighborhoods, from Ferguson to Staten Island.
Impunity for murder and assault is both a general failing of the U.S. criminal justice system and a historic injustice specific to African-Americans—a legacy of underpolicing that reaches back to the days of Jim Crow. It may seem paradoxical, but the police tactics that protesters have recently denounced as harassment and discrimination actually overcompensate for what is, in essence, a weak police presence in these neighborhoods.
Today’s controversial policing tactics are part of a law enforcement model in which prevention is everything and vigorous response an afterthought. Officers are better at stopping people at random than at tracking down those who do real harm; they are better at arrest sweeps than at investigating major crimes.
One result of this long-standing pattern has been a heartbreaking plague of homicide among black Americans. The murder rate among African-Americans has receded in recent years: In 2010, it was 32 per 100,000 people—half the rate of 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it remains much higher than for other groups. The homicide mortality rate in 2010 for black men between 25 and 34 was about 15 times the rate for white men of the same age.
This racial disparity isn’t new. Historians such as Eric H. Monkkonen of the University of California, Los Angeles, have traced disproportionate black murder rates to the late 19th century, with the gap widening in the 20th. Annual reports by the Los Angeles police from the early 1940s show that even when blacks were just 5% of the city’s population, they accounted for 21% of its homicide victims.
Retrieved January 26, 2015 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-underpolicing-of-black-america-1422049080