One of the few substantive parts of the first presidential debate that actually focused on an important issue (one on which the candidates actually disagreed) was the discussion over crime, police, and race relations. Hillary made it clear that she feels blacks are endangered by police. She also repeated the lie about crime dropping in major cities. Maybe the next time she meets with the FBI director to plot her get-out-of-jail free card, Hillary should take a look at their latest report on crime.
Yesterday, the FBI released new data compiled from over 15,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country (covering a population of 305 million) showing that the murder rate increased by 11.8 percent from 2014 to 2015. In mid-to-large sized cities with a population of 500,000-999,000, the murder rate spiked a whopping 20.2 percent in just one year. While crime data has always been a hodgepodge of sketchy and incomplete information, these numbers coincide with other independent analysis. According to the left-leaning Marshall Project, in the nation’s 25 largest cities, the murder rate jumped 14.6% in 2015, which is the largest single-year spike since 1960. And the left-leaning Brennan Center projects that the trend has continued into 2016, with murders expected to rise 13.1 percent (on top of the increase from 2014-2015) this year.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of this data. One of the most miraculous social trends in this country in recent years —and perhaps the only positive social trend in our country — has been the two-decades’ long decline in violent crime. When violent crime drops every year for over two decades, there are clearly some fixed and inveterate macro-factors that are creating such an environment.
While criminologists disagree over the causes behind the drop, more aggressive policing and tougher sentences are undeniably a major part of the equation. But whether one believes the great crime miracle is the result of tough on crime laws or other sociological reasons, it takes a pretty transcendent countervailing factor to reverse this 23-year trend by even a small percentage, much less such a significant increase. This is why it’s dishonest when some major media outlets tout the fact that crime is still relatively low compared to the pre-‘90s era. There has been a generational sea-shift in violent crime that is almost permanent. Of course it will take many years of dismantling law and order to return to the pre-Giuliani days. Do we really want to wait for another few years of spikes in crime to pull the fire alarm?
So what changed in 2015?
There is no way to escape the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the war on cops and the effort to dismantle the police tactics that helped decrease violent crime and murder in the first place. It is no coincidence that the increase in murders was most potent in cities such as St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.
Also, while there is no empirical data connecting the spike in crime and murder to jailbreak policies, it is hard to imagine that the constant criminal releases over the past few years are not taking a toll on the safety of inner cities.
And who is hurt most by these policies?
According to the WSJ, “in 2014, 698 more blacks were killed than whites, according to the FBI. In 2015, 1,185 more blacks were killed than whites, according to the data.”
What happened to Black Lives Matter?
Once again, these numbers demonstrate that the police and the criminal justice system are not the source of the problems in the inner-city. We could abolish the police tomorrow and it certainly would not result in fewer black lives (or any other lives) being extinguished. Yet, the political leadership in both parties would rather pander and focus on the racial disparity in shootings resulting from altercations with the police rather than shootings by criminals.
Unfortunately, this was the one issue on which Donald Trump actually staked out a conservative position and was on message during the vacuous debate over personality. Don’t look for the media to fact check that part of the debate.