The worrying trends are reported in this Wall Street Journal article by Heather Mac Donald.
The nation’s two-decades-long crime decline may be over. Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America. In Baltimore, the most pressing question every morning is how many people were shot the previous night. Gun violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year, according to Baltimore police, with 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend. May has been the most violent month the city has seen in 15 years.
In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro at a May 7 City Hall hearing.
Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%.
Those citywide statistics from law-enforcement officials mask even more startling neighborhood-level increases. Shooting incidents are up 500% in an East Harlem precinct compared with last year; in a South Central Los Angeles police division, shooting victims are up 100%.
By contrast, the first six months of 2014 continued a 20-year pattern of growing public safety. Violent crime in the first half of last year dropped 4.6% nationally and property crime was down 7.5%. Though comparable national figures for the first half of 2015 won’t be available for another year, the January through June 2014 crime decline is unlikely to be repeated.
The most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months.
Since last summer, the airwaves have been dominated by suggestions that the police are the biggest threat facing young black males today. A handful of highly publicized deaths of unarmed black men, often following a resisted arrest—including Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., in July 2014, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014 and Freddie Gray in Baltimore last month—have led to riots, violent protests and attacks on the police. Murders of officers jumped 89% in 2014, to 51 from 27….
In New York, pedestrian stops—when the police question and sometimes frisk individuals engaged in suspicious behavior—have dropped nearly 95% from their 2011 high, thanks to litigation charging that the NYPD’s stop, question and frisk practices were racially biased. A judge agreed, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, upon taking office last year, did too, embracing the resulting judicial monitoring of the police department. It is no surprise that shootings are up in the city.
Politicians and activists in New York and other cities have now taken aim at “broken windows” policing. This police strategy has shown remarkable success over the past two decades by targeting low-level public-order offenses, reducing the air of lawlessness in rough neighborhoods and getting criminals off the streets before they commit bigger crimes. Opponents of broken-windows policing somehow fail to notice that law-abiding residents of poor communities are among the strongest advocates for enforcing laws against public drinking, trespassing, drug sales and drug use, among other public-order laws.
As attorney general, Eric Holder pressed the cause of ending “mass incarceration” on racial grounds; elected officials across the political spectrum have jumped on board. A 2014 California voter initiative has retroactively downgraded a range of property and drug felonies to misdemeanors, including forcible theft of guns, purses and laptops. More than 3,000 felons have already been released from California prisons, according to the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles County. Burglary, larceny and car theft have surged in the county, the association reports.
“There are no real consequences for committing property crimes anymore,” Los Angeles Police Lt. Armando Munoz told Downtown News earlier this month, “and the criminals know this.” The Milwaukee district attorney, John Chisholm, is diverting many property and drug criminals to rehabilitation programs to reduce the number of blacks in Wisconsin prisons; critics see the rise in Milwaukee crime as one result.
Retrieved May 30, 2015 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-nationwide-crime-wave-1432938425