Cities around the country have set new homicide records but at least one DA says there's no 'crisis of violence'

ABC News published a story today pointing out that at least 12 major cities around the country have set all-time records for the number of homicides recorded this year:

At least 12 major U.S. cities have broken annual homicide records in 2021 — and there’s still three weeks to go in the year…

“It’s terrible to every morning get up and have to go look at the numbers and then look at the news and see the stories. It’s just crazy. It’s just crazy and this needs to stop,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said after his city surpassed its annual homicide record of 500, which stood since 1990.

Philadelphia, a city of roughly 1.5 million people, has had more homicides this year (521 as of Dec. 6) than the nation’s two largest cities, New York (443 as of Dec. 5) and Los Angeles (352 as of Nov. 27). That’s an increase of 13% from 2020, a year that nearly broke the 1990 record.

Here’s a graph showing the jump in shootings that has occurred in Philly since last year. If you look closely, you’ll see 2020 was trending up slightly as the lockdowns started but the major spike started at the end of May 2020, right when George Floyd was murdered.

Philadelphia’s mayor is saying the right things about this but the message from Philly DA Larry Krasner is very different. Monday he pushed back on the idea that the city had a crisis of crime:

“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” the district attorney said at his weekly news briefing in South Philadelphia, noting that violent crimes committed without guns are down. “It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime.”…

Shooting incidents are up 4.4% while robberies with guns are up 24.7%.

But other robberies are down 13.8%, rapes are down 11%; aggravated assaults are down 7.1%. And while household burglaries are up 1%, commercial burglaries are down 55.1%, according to the police department.

This is the same tired argument progressives have been trying to sell since last year, i.e. crime isn’t up, only murder and shootings are up. But is it really unreasonable for people to be worried about a rise in the very worst crime? As one of Krasner’s critics told the Inquirer, “We had a pregnant woman shot in the stomach to kill the baby before it got out of the womb; we had a 14-year-old-boy shot 18 times coming home from school; you got a 67-year-old a man driving by Lincoln High School shot in the head and killed.”

So, big surprise, the murder of teens and the elderly in the street is more concerning to people than a drop in commercial burglaries. Who could have guessed?

I’m not even sure Krasner’s take on this makes much sense. Assuming there are a limited number of robbers in the city of Philadelphia, if those robbers suddenly start using guns more often such that robberies with guns go up 25%, that likely means there are fewer robberies taking place without guns. So the fact that some other stat about robberies goes down doesn’t mean the situation is the same as it was before. More robbers using guns is objectively bad news.

Similarly, aggravated assaults may be down 7% but that’s happening at the same time shootings and homicides are up substantially. Maybe that means criminals are skipping assault and going straight to shooting people dead to settle differences. How can that be anything but bad news?

In addition to Philly, ABC News pointed to 11 other cities that have already set homicide records this year plus two more which are very close:

Philadelphia’s homicide record was broken in the same week that Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville eclipsed records for slayings…

Other major cities that have surpassed yearly homicide records are St. Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Austin, Texas; Rochester, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, which broke its record back in August…

Among the major cities on the brink of setting new homicide records are Milwaukee, which has 178 homicides, 12 short of a record set in 2020; and Minneapolis, which has 91 homicides, six shy of a record set in 1995.

What this all means is a lot of additional people are dead or injured. That obviously tragic for those people and their families but it’s also scaring the hell out of everyone else who is just trying to get on with their lives in these increasingly dangerous cities. Efforts to reverse this trend wont’ be based on defunding the police. In fact, one retired NYPD detective tells ABC that what jumps out at his is the declining number of arrests:

“Nobody’s getting arrested anymore,” Boyce said. “People are getting picked up for gun possession and they’re just let out over and over again.”

The FBI crime data shows that the number of arrests nationwide plummeted 24% in 2020, from the more than 10 million arrests made in 2019. The number of 2020 arrests — 7.63 million — is the lowest in 25 years, according to the data.

It sure sounds like all of the elements of the Ferguson Effect to me, i.e. police pulling back because of a public backlash and violence spiking as a result.

At some point, progressive mayors, DAs and national officials need to own their part in creating this disaster. It turns out that spending an entire year badmouthing police and threatening to slash support for their jobs in order to mollify Black Lives Matter activists wasn’t a very good idea. Who could have guessed? Fixing the problem will require hiring officers who resigned or retired and then standing up for them when activists come after them. This shouldn’t be that hard but in blue cities it seems to be.