There was a time in the distant past (by which I mean prior to January 20th and most certainly before last November) when nobody wanted to talk about rising crime rates in America’s urban centers on cable news or in the larger newspapers. Sure, they wanted to talk about mass shootings (except for Bunny Friend Park, natch), but not the fact that the murder rates in Chicago, Baltimore, St. Lois and dozens of other cities were spiking up well beyond any normal statistical variations. But now that there’s a new President in the Oval Office, it seems that the wall of silence is coming down. Time Magazine is actually out with a feature this week which provides a stark depiction of precisely how bad things have gotten.
Violent crime increased in many of the nation’s largest cities in 2016, the second year in a row that metro areas saw jumps in homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.
According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which collected data from 61 metropolitan police agencies, U.S. cities saw 6,407 homicides in 2016, an 11% increase from the year before. Dallas, Las Vegas, Louisville, Memphis, Phoenix and San Jose all saw rises in killings last year, as did some smaller cities that typically have very low murder rates. Arlington, Texas, for example, had 4 homicides in 2015 but 18 in 2016; Salt Lake City saw 6 in 2015 compared with 14 last year…
[Darrel] Stephens says many departments cite similar problems: gang violence and retaliation, violence associated with drugs, the overwhelming number of guns in many U.S. cities, and even problems related to conflicts originating on social media. Another consistent factor is that violent crime is often concentrated in just a handful of neighborhoods. In Chicago, for instance, most of the homicides occur in a few areas on the South and West sides.
Here’s one interesting aspect of the analysis from Darrel Stephens, the MCCA’s executive director. He’s careful to say that two years might not be enough time to conclude that a trend is taking place and we should wait for three to five years of data. That’s certainly possible, but he also goes on to note that while we’ve seen two years of significant increases in violent crime rates in more than forty cities, “it’s not anywhere near the kind of violence that we had in the 1990s.”
Really? That’s an odd statement coming from the same group which helpfully provided Time Magazine with this graph. (Which, by the way, appears immediately below that quote in the article.)
Notice that the big spikes on the left are all in the period of 1990 to 1994, when crime was seriously running amok across most of the country, not just in the big cities. It was also the period immediately before Bill Clinton decided to work with Newt Gingrich and the GOP and bring about a new era of serious law enforcement.
Now look at the tail end of those individual graphs for each urban center. Granted, they might might not all be precisely equal to or above the historical highs in the early nineties, but if you ask me they look pretty darned close.
Here’s a prediction for you. All the time Barack Obama was in office it was highly unfashionable to talk about crime because the captain of the ship is the one in charge when it hits the iceberg. While Hillary Clinton was running to replace him and preserve his legacy, any talk of American Carnage and rising crime was scoffed at. Sure, we were told… there’s been a brief spike in a few places but overall, crime rates are still down across the board and the real problem was the police themselves. But now that Donald Trump is in office, crime numbers will be a big topic. Unfortunately for Trump, his critics are correct. He wanted the job and now he’s in charge. If he can’t get those numbers down it will be on him.
This is pretty much the same as talking about the national debt, deficits and how Trump will pay for the wall or anything else. Those topics were totally valid during Obama’s time in office but it was simply too rude to talk about them in the media. Now it will be all the rage. It’s just a shame that the blatant hypocrisy in the press is so obvious here.