Reports of a national crime wave were premature and unfounded, and that "the average person in a large urban area is safer walking on the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years."Ah, yes.
The authors conclude there is no evidence of a national murder wave.... Most Americans will continue to experience low rates of crime.... There is not a nationwide crime wave, or rising violence across American cities.
Cause for a moment there, I was kinda worried that more people were getting killed. But it turns out, I guess, that it was illiberal of me to care about people who are particularly at risk of being killed. Also, did you know:
Homicides are concentrated in the most segregated and poorest areas of the city.I hadn't thought of that. And since that's not where the "average person" lives, I guess we don't need to worry.
Maybe I should just jump on this illogic ideological bandwagon of denial to see where it goes:
By "historic standards," racism is pretty low in America. QED: Not a problem.Check, check, and check. Problems solved!
#BlackLivesMatter can close up shop because "most Americans" don't have to worry about being shot by police.
Enough with all those new letters, the "average American" doesn't face any LGBTQ discrimination.
Oh, but while you're here. Not that it's any cause for concern. But there is this little issue...:
The murder rate is projected to rise 13.1 percent this year.... [and] 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016.Say what?!
[Update: 2015 stats are out. The rate, based on recorded homicide, increased from 4.26 to 4.75 per 100,000. The rate, based on estimated homicides, increased from 4.44 to 4.90. Recorded 13,594 homicides in 2014 (estimated 14,164). 15,192 in 2015 (estimated 15,696). 2014 estimated population 318,857,056. 2015: 320,090,857.]
If these numbers are correct -- and they may not be (there is some odd math in this report*; and keep in mind 2015's national UCR stats haven't yet come out) -- but if these Brennen Centers estimates are correct, that would mean 2015 saw a 16.3 percent increase in the homicide rate.
So all we've got is just your average 16.3 percent annual increase in murder. I mean, we had one of those, well, uh, actually, never. This would be the largest increase since the government has been keeping track. (An increase in 1921 might have been greater, but we don't really know.) The last time the UCR recorded a 31.5 percent increase in two years was, oh, never.
[In raw numbers the homicide increase is the greatest in 25 years. But it's standard industry practice to use rates and percentages.]
[Update: I've been informed over in the twitter world that when they say "nationwide" they don't mean "nationwide" but "in the top cities." I would expect the national increase to be less than what is found in the top cities. But I don't know. Anyway... the 2015 UCR data will be out this week. And then, at least when it comes to last year, we can all stop speculating and know how big the increase in homicide was.]
As to their overall point that homicide may be up but "crime" is little changed? I just call bullshit. Not on their analysis, per se. It's just that crime numbers are not as reliable as homicide numbers. Trust homicide. Crime numbers are heavily influenced A) by proactive police and arrests (which are both down) and B) non-reporting (probably up). I trust the strength of the correlation between homicide and other violent crimes more than I trust the data on other violent crimes. If homicide is up, violent crime is up. Trust me on that one.
*They've got some weird math here I can't figure out:
The national murder rate is projected to increase by 13.1 percent. Nearly half of the increase (234 out of 496 new homicides) will occur in Chicago. (page 1)But if the national rate goes up 13 percent this year, we'd see something closer to 1,500 more homicides. (Based on 2014 rate of 4.5 and 13,472 homicides.) And Chicago's numbers will be up by about 200 this year. This is closer to 15 percent. What gives?
Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston are projected to account for 50 percent (517 of 1041) of new homicides between 2014 and 2016. (page 8)But if the murder rate is up 30 percent, we'll have closer to 2,500 new murders. I do not understand.
Also, these semi-annual "crime isn't up" reports from the Brennan Center have this odd habit of saying, "if we remove the cities where the increase is the greatest, the increase really isn't so great. (An odd statistical proposition, to say the least.) But let's play along and "pull a Brennan." Let's remove Chicago, Houston, and Baltimore because (I think) in terms of raw numbers, those cities have the greatest increase in homicides, 2014 - 2016 (roughly 240, 165 and 115, respectively). After we "pull a Brennan" we lose about 520 murders. That's a lot, but we'd still have close to 17,000 homicides in 2016, which would be a 2-year increase of 20 percent. And even that should be cause for alarm.