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by Peter Moskos

March 13, 2012

You Can't Blame the Police

I wrote in the New York Times:
Much — though by no means all — of the disproportionate rate of blacks stopped, frisked, arrested, convicted and imprisoned is a simple reflection of violence in poor African-American communities. Like robbing banks because that’s where the money is, the obvious reason police focus so much of their attention on the young male black community is because that is where the murders are.

It’s not politically correct to say so, but reality isn't politically correct. Over 90 percent of New York City's 536 murder victims last year were black or Hispanic. Just 48 victims were white or Asian. The rate of white homicide in the city (1.18 per 100,000) is incredibly low, even by international standards.
This is from a greater "debate" titled "Young, Black and Male in the United States." What's odd about these New York Times's "debates" is that they're not debates. There are eight people contributing (for no pay) independently of each other, none of whom have any idea what the others are saying. This may or may not lead to good points being made, but it is a bit of shame it's not a real debate.

Update: And a few stats that didn't make it in my piece, for reasons of relevancy and style.

Leaving aside domestic violence, how many of the roughly 1.3 million white women in New York City were murdered last year by a stranger (ie: leaving out the 34 cases of domestic-related violence)?

Zero. Zero.

And 31% of domestic violence murder victims were male. Because compared to other locales, in terms of crime New York has a strangely broad definition of "domestic." In most places domestic violence means you are or have had sex with somebody. In New York it means living under the same roof.


Anonymous said...

You might be aware of this pdf, but if you are into these type of stats, this NYPD link provides breakdowns for a diverse list of crimes


PCM said...

I am into those types of stats. Thanks.

EOJPG said...

"Debates" are often people talking past each other, at least or maybe just especially in the age of blogs, etc. Part of me thinks bemoaning the current state of affairs is perennial (I have a sneaking suspicion that people in Papua New Guinea did the same in the year 1184 AD, as well as in the year 1184 BC); part of me thinks bemoaning the current state of affairs is ahistorical (Is civil discourse really worse today than it was, say, immediately prior to the Civil War?); and art of me thinks bemoaning the current state of affairs is warranted (Blogs and cable news and news websites allow you to pick your news, interact only with those with whom you are inclined to concur, and have your views reinforced rather than constructively challenged; despite its author's intellect, Cass Sunstein's was flat wrong.). I don't know what to think; I'm not a smart man. But your lament doesn't seem out of place or surprising.

On the topic of statistics, I am aware of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics; and my Google Fu is such that I am most certainly a black belt (sash, actually, if we're talking about kung fu rather than karate, but I digress), and could probably obtain other decent sources of information relatively quickly and easily. Nor do I wish to bog down PCM in a data dump whose contents I will most likely utilize infrequently, and for my own personal amusement only. That said, first, if there is a Lettterman-esque Top 10 (or Top X - it'd be your list) of sources you wish to promote, I'd be curious to see it. Second, I can divide 536 murder victims by 8,000,000 people (my ballpark for NYC's population) and then multiply by 100 to obtain a per capita murder rate. But (a) while that seems reasonable on its face, is that an acceptable way to compute said statistic (just to be sure); (b) how does one compute probabilities (e.g., the likelihood of being murdered in NYC versus, say, the likelihood of dying by bathtub drowning); (c) is there some institution or publication or online repository (perhaps already referenced) that computes such statistics already, across jurisdictions, to ensure quality control, that one is comparing apples to apples, etc.?


EOJPG said...

Sunstein's "democracy.com"

Anonymous said...

Good luck getting testimony or even a point in the right direction from the man you publicly humiliated a week before. Good luck building up a productive relationship with the community when you terrorize its residents and make them feel like intruders in their own neighborhood.