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by Peter Moskos

June 6, 2016

Good News From NYC, Not-Bad News From Baltimore, Horrible News from Chicago

In New York City, year to date, murders continue to be lower than last year (124 vs 140) and higher than record-low 2014 (112). Given the rise of homicide in so many other cities, this is great news.

In Baltimore there were 26 murders in May. It's hard to call this exactly "good news." But last year, post riot, there were 42 murders in May. In previous years, May typically saw about 21 murders. Year to date (though May) 110 murders is not particularly good news. But it could be worse.

In 2014 Chicago saw about 155 murders through May, last year there 173, and this year about 265 (just through May). Coinciding with this huge increase in murder is the fact that Chicago police are shooting far fewer people than ever! In 2014 CPD shot 45 people. This year they're on pace for 15. The obvious conclusion is that police are less likely to proactively engage with violent criminals. This is great news for the police-are-racist-harassers-of-innocent-black-men camp. But not great news if you happen to be a young black man in Chicago getting shot.

Yes, there might be a real trade-off between 30 people not shot by police and 1,400 more people shot by criminals. I'm not saying it's direct cause-and-effect (it's not like police were shooting all the bad guys) as much as mutual causation (police are interacting less with potential criminals).

This certainly doesn't fit the narrative from the left that police use-of-force is the paramount criminal justice issue of the day. But while the streets run red some people's faces will go blue saying, "we don't know why crime is up in Chicago!" What we do know is that no other standard factor has changed so much in Chicago in the past two years.

If one happens to think, as I do, that most police-involved shootings are justified, this isn't good news. Seems to me that police are not proactively engaging with potential murderers, and this matters. (And it matter more than, say, reducing the racial disparity in juvenile arrests based on population demographics.)

I bet arrest numbers are down, too. [Well, I know they are, but why is it so hard to get Chicago arrest numbers?] Best I can find is this from 538.com.

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