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by Peter Moskos

November 12, 2016

Homicide is up, and it's not Trump's fault yet

Somehow, between the Cubs winning the World Series, the presidential election, friends and family visiting, and, you know, my job, I missed this.

The Brennan Center, which has been repeatedly telling us not to worry about rising homicide, predicts that this year's homicide increase will be even bigger than last year's increase (last year's was 10.4%, this year's is predicted by the Brennen Center to be 13.1%). The Brennan center says "Nationally, the murder rate is projected to increase 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016."

[Update/correction: Their math, as has been pointed out to me, does not add up. By my math, a 13.1 percent increase after a 10.4 percent increase is a 24.9 percent 2-year increase. I've changed a few things in this post to reflect the correct number.]

Homicides up by 25 percent in just two years? This is the biggest two-year increase ever.

Their conclusion:
There is no evidence of a national murder wave.
What the f*ck? I'm getting these numbers from their report! It's like Bagdad Bob all over again. I wonder how long they can keep this up.

Oh, but they do go on:
Increases in these select cities [Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston] are indeed a serious problem.
You think? But...
most Americans will continue to experience low rates of crime. A few cities are seeing murders increase, causing the national murder rate to rise.
Apparently, goes their logic, as long as homicide goes up more in some cities than others, it's not really going up elsewhere, even though it is. To say the increase in homicide is due to a few "select cities" is simply not true.

Chicago, Baltimore, and Houston are not at all creating the national trend. They're just the leaders of the pack. One could remove "these select cities" -- not that you should, mind you, but I have -- and we're still left with a huge increase in homicide, nationwide.

[And the "most Americans" part really gets my goat. Like we didn't to worry abut minorities at risk? I'd like to hear the Brennan Center tell that to everybody afraid after Trump's victory.]

And mark my words: when the official UCR data on this year comes out next year, those on the Left will be quick to blame Trump and everybody and everything except what has happened since 2014, post-Ferguson, locally with policing and nationally with the DOJ. These past two years have been an unprecedented and unmitigated disaster in terms of rising murder, particularly among poor young under-educated African-American men with guns. And the only person who even pretended to care (and based on his record, I seriously doubt his sincerity) just won the presidential election.

Speaking of my words, a short while back I wrote this:
Here’s what scares me right now more than guns: the potential right-wing law-and-order backlash. ... It will be the largest [homicide] increase in decades. And yet the Left has been in denial about this (and/or discounts its significance). ... we’re virtually conceding law-and-order issues to Trump and the fascist Right. Politically and morally, this is bonkers.
And this:
Politically, I don't want to the only people responsive to rising crime to be Trump and the "law-and-order." They scare me.
And that's the world we live in. The Left wouldn't address this issue. Well, let's see what happens now.


Jon said...

Professor, you have made reference to a right wing law and order backlash. What do you think that looks like? When I think of right wing law and order I think of Giuliani's policies. You seem to be in favor of broken-windows policing, which the left seems to be against. Would you mind describing the backlash you fear?

Moskos said...

The backlash I fear would involve Trump inviting his supporters to confront anti-Trump protesters. I fear right-wing irregulars (eg: border vigilantes) taking illegal action without repercussions. I fear more George Zimmermans. I fear massive deportation hurting the city I live in.

On a policy level, I fear more war on drugs and increased incarceration in response to rising crime. As to policing, I fear cops being told to "clean this mess up," without being told how to do so legally and with the backing of their department. For instance, corners *can* be cleared legally and constitutionally. But police can also go in and just lock everybody up who is standing around. When the brass encourages street cops to police illegally and police then do so, the brass never has the cops' backs when the shit hits the fan.

And yes, I am in favor of Broken Windows. I hear nothing coming from the left that addresses crime and crime prevention. Without details, "community policing" & "reform" mean nothing. "Implicit bias training" may or may not reduce bad shootings. But there is no data to show it does. The left needs to focus on crime-prevention solutions and not just limiting police misconduct. If the political left has any actual police-involved crime-fighting strategies, I am unaware of them. Now more than ever, it behooves the left to embrace a strategy that originates from a community-policing mindset and is proven in terms of crime reduction and quality-of-life effectiveness.

In over simplified terms of police leadership, Bill Bratton is the answer and Daryl Gates is the right-wing backlash I fear.


bacchys said...

The Left tried to address it with idiotic gun control laws. The Right will try to address it by violating every other Amendment in the Bill of Rights- and likely have some backdoor impact on the Second Amendment as well (such as banning people based on government watchlists).

Unknown said...

It's frustrating to watch an educated, informed, articulate person scream into the wind on a topic of utmost importance. Keep up the good fight, alas no one but the choir is listening as of yet. (and maybe bacchys, I think his/her post acknowledges there is a legitimate rise in murder rates)

Liberals demonstrate they genuinely don't care about the murdered, the families affected, or the neighborhoods affected because according to their own words, most of us (white America) don't have to worry about it, so what, me worry?

Second City Cop has an infographic demonstrating your fear that the Democrats conceded the law and order vote:


It's the first post from 11/15/16.

Moskos said...

Yes. That post over at 2nd City Cop shows that the few Chicago neighborhoods that voted for Trump also have the lowest levels of homicides. They're also the ones all the cops live in.