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Sudden Spike in Violent Crime Across US Raises Alarm

Sudden Spike in Violent Crime Across US Raises Alarm
Police place evidence markers at spots where shell casings have been found at the scene of a shooting at the intersection of West North Avenue and Druid Hill Avenue in West Baltimore, Maryland. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

By    |   Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:28 PM

Major cities across the United States are seeing their crime rates skyrocket, sparking alarm about the causes, particularly given that there had been a two-decade drop in crime.

A city-by-city look shows:
  • In Baltimore, shootings are up 82.5 percent, or nearly double from last year, the Baltimore Brew reported.
  • In Chicago, there have been over 900 shootings this year, a 40 percent increase, and a 29 percent increase in homicides in the first three months of the year, USA Today reported.
  • In New York City, murders have increased 20 percent and the mayor has already announced that he will put an additional 330 cops on the street by Monday in response to the spike in homicides and shootings.
  • In Los Angeles, violent crime rates increased by more than 25 percent and the city is also deploying more officers to areas where crime is on the rise, The Los Angeles Times reported.
And according to Townhall.com:
  • In St. Louis, there have been 55 murders this year
  • In Dallas, violent crime is up 10 percent
  • In Atlanta, homicides are up 32 percent
  • In Milwaukee, homicides have increased by 180 percent
Some attribute the rise in crime to a "Ferguson" effect, or a rise in anti-police sentiment born out of the protests and clashes around the country that followed the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, The Week reported.

A dynamic may have emerged in which criminals are more brazen and police are more cautious in fighting crime.

"There's a war on cops. Not bad cops, not bad apples, but all cops and the police know it. The conduct of the suspects is never in question — they're always right, it's usually drawn on racial lines. It's a complete, toxic formula to actually do police work," said former Los Angeles Police Department Homicide Detective Mark Fuhrman, according to Townhall.com.

"The police are simply scaling back, exactly what everybody's chanting for in all of these protests. 'Don't be so aggressive. Don't stop and frisk. Don't stop and ask where people are going. Don't make traffic stops.' So, they are," Fuhrman said, and now crime's skyrocketing.

But others say that linking the protests to an increase in crime is misleading.

"This is all part of an attempt to tell black people that if we exercise our First Amendment rights, we are somehow now responsible for people who engage in crime," said CNN political analyst Van Jones.
"Why should the black community have to choose between police abuse and police neglect? That's a false choice."

Meanwhile, other experts say that alarm about the spikes in violence is premature.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, part of the reason the increases look so high is because violent crime, including murder, has dropped so much since the 1990s. In addition, it is not yet clear that it's the beginning of a long-term increase.

"I think it's unfortunate when the media talks a lot about these crime spikes … It tends to scare the public," Inimai Chettiar, director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, told the CS Monitor. "A lot of people don't even know there was a massive crime decline."

She said that there are no indicators of a long-term trend and that one reason for the spike could be a "normal fluctuation" often around hot summer months.

"What goes down generally comes back up," says James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston, according to the CS Monitor. "There are certain cities that have had short-term spikes, but we would not be noticing it were it not for fact that we have seen some successes over the past few years."

He added that he did not see anything "systemic" going on in New York or Baltimore.

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Major cities across the United States are seeing their crime rates skyrocket, sparking alarm about the causes, particularly given that there had been a two-decade drop in crime. A city-by-city look shows ...
crime, violent, homicide, cities, police
Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:28 PM
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