Gun violence is climbing in the nation's cities, marking a likely end to the 20-year national decline in the crime rates, because of changing laws that make it more difficult for police to do their jobs, according to a Wall Street Journal
"Crime is the worst I've ever seen it,' said St. Louis Alderman Joe Vaccaro during a City Hall hearing earlier this month, writes Heather Mac Donald, a Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute in her article.
In St. Louis alone, shootings are up by 39 percent, robberies by 43 percent,and homicides by 25 percent.
St. Louis is not the only city seeing increases. According to Baltimore police, gun violence in that city is up by more than 60 percent over last year, with 32 shootings occurring over Memorial Day weekend alone, making May the most violent month the city has experienced in the past 15 years.
Homicides were up by 180 percent in Milwaukee by May 17, over the same period from last year. In Atlanta, murders went up by 32 percent by mid-May, and in Chicago, homicides went up by 17 percent and shootings by 24 percent. New York marked a murder rate rise of nearly 13 percent and gun violence by 7 percent, and violent felonies in Los Angeles went up by 25 percent, MacDonald writes.
Even worse, neighborhood level crime climbed even more, with shooting incidents going up by 500 percent in New York's East Harlem Precinct.
Just last year, though, the first six months of 2014 marked a drop in violent crime nationally, with a 4.6 drop noted.
Mac Donald said the rise in crime may be because of the growing unrest over the nation's police departments in recent months, following the deaths of unarmed black men including Ferguson's Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Staten Island.
The deaths have brought riots, and the murders of police officers has also gone up. Mac Donald notes that President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder have "embraced the conceit that law enforcement in black communities is infected by bias," and the media is also putting out a stream of stories about the "alleged police mistreatment of blacks."
As a result, she said, almost any police shooting that involves a black person "no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting," brings angry protests, and acquittals of police officers for using deadly force often brings violence, with the result being what St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has called the "Ferguson effect."
This means police are backing away from enforcement activity while the criminal element feels empowered, said Mac Donald, pointing out that similar "Ferguson effects" are happening nationwide as police scale back on proactive police actions.
"Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family," a New York City police officer told Mac Donald. "Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be non stop protests."
New York's pedestrian "stop, question and frisk" practices have dropped by nearly 95 percent from 2011 after litigation was filed calling the technique racially biased, she writes, and "it is no surprise that shootings are up in the city."
New York and other cities are also taking aim at "broken windows" policing
that allows officers to target lower-level public offenses, and Holder's call to end "mass incarceration" on racial grounds has resulted in more felons on the streets, she continued.
"Contrary to the claims of the 'black lives matter' movement, no government policy in the past quarter century has done more for urban reclamation than proactive policing," Mac Donald claimed, as such policies have saved thousands of lives while bringing in commerce and jobs to once drug infested neighborhoods.
"To be sure, police officers need to treat everyone they encounter with courtesy and respect," she said. "Any fatal police shooting of an innocent person is a horrifying tragedy that police training must work incessantly to prevent. But unless the demonization of law enforcement ends, the liberating gains in urban safety over the past 20 years will be lost."
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