At least 52 people were shot across [Chicago] over the weekend, including nine homicides.("At least"? Has it got so bad that we can't even keep track?)
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, talking about the 40 victims known to police, is "sick of it":
672 arrests? That's ridiculous!2,639 people have been shot in Chicago this year. That's an increase of more than 50 percent from last year. That really is ridiculous.
There's a certain segment of the community that is driving this violence. The police department is doing its job. We're arresting these individuals. Where we're missing the boat is we're not holding them accountable."
And it's even worse in Baltimore. Stephen Morgan, my Harvard squash mate -- I love saying that because, put together, those might be the four snootiest words in the English language! (That said, in grad school Steve and I did play squash once or twice, and I'm pretty sure I won.) -- anyway, Steve sent me these numbers for Baltimore:
28 days beginning Monday 6/27/16
Street robbery 283
28 days beginning Monday 6/29/15
Street robbery 327
Prior five-year average of equivalent four weeks (from 2010 through 2014)
Street robbery 210.6
If there was any doubt, murdres and shooting doubled after last year's April riot. There's a link to his updated report (and a few other things) here.
But when I bring up increased crime, I feel like half the world is gas-lighting me. First there's this inevitable rebuke: "Fear mongering! Crime isn't up. It's at all time low!". There's usually talk about the the "latest available data" as if time stopped in 2014. Yeah, back then crime was at a many-decades low. But now it's not. Who you gonna believe?
If history is any guide, liberals really should not concede crime fears to the Right. Yes, the public always thinks crime is getting worse. But now those fears just happen to reflect reality. So rather than say, "you were wrong for years" it behooves us to say, "OK, now you are right, and what are we going to do about it?"
Politically, I don't want to the only people responsive to rising crime to be Trump and the "law-and-order." They scare me. But every time anybody, myself included, dares think about what has happened in the past two years that might impact crime, you get the inevitable "correlation isn't causation" mantra. Makes me bang my head against the wall! Even Steve agrees. (And Steve, unlike me, is a quantitative stats guy.)
Correlation actually can be indicative of causation. At the very least, it's a clue. I mean, what else has changed so dramatically except police and crime? And some point, if you get enough correlation and have taken other variables into account (and reach an all too arbitrary "there's less than a 1 in 20 chance it's random"), well, that's what qualitative social scientists call "proof." And then if you don't like the conclusion, you harp on measurement error or non-random missing data.
Morgan writes (he always has sounded more academic than me. How does he do that?):
I think it is undeniable that this is a downstream effect of the “unrest” last year, but there are still a lot of unanswered (and some probably unanswerable) questions on the particular mechanism that generated the effect.I'm more rash than Steve, quicker to point at the mechanism of decreased discretionary proactive policing as indicated by, you know, by cops telling me their do less discretionary proactive policing. (If you prefer your data more dry and processed, you could look at reduced arrest numbers.)
Let's play the counterfactual game. Pretend crime went gone down in Baltimore after April of last year but everything else stayed the same. Well, what then would be some possible reasons? People would be pointing to less proactive policing as part of the solution. They might say crime went down because of the indictment of cops. Perhaps this increased police "legitimacy." Or maybe the presence of DOJ investigaters improved policing and lowered crime. Maybe City Council President Jack Young and State Sen. Catherine Pugh's celebrated gang truce" saved lives. But none of that is true. Becuause violence doubled. We'll never have definitive proof. There will always be "a lot of unanswered (and some probably unanswerable) questions on the particular mechanism that generated the effect." But until somebody can show me something else that makes sense, I'm quite happy to Occam's Razor this baby and focus on a massive decline in proactive and aggressive policing. It really is ridiculous.