Fewer Americans Believe Crime is a Serious Problem

The percentage of Americans who say that crime is an extremely or very serious problem in the U.S. dropped to under 50 percent in 2018, the first time respondents have been below that threshold since 2005, says a new Gallup survey.

The percentage of Americans who say that crime is an extremely or very serious problem in the U.S. dropped to under 50 percent in 2018, the first time respondents have been below that threshold since 2005, says a new Gallup survey, The Hill reports. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said that the problem of crime was extremely or very serious, a drop of 10 percent from last year and one of the sharpest decreases on record. The percentage of Americans who say crime is increasing nationwide remains high at 60 percent, but that is an 8-point drop from 2017 and the lowest percentage since 2004.

When it comes to local crime, Americans are more optimistic: 42 percent of  respondents said they believed crime was dropping in their area, compared with 39 percent who said that it was rising. This was the first year since 2001 that more Americans have said that crime was decreasing in their local area than increasing. Nine percent of respondents said crime was a very serious or extremely serious problem in their areas, the first time that rating has dropped into single digits since 2004. Crime rates have been decreasing nationally since the 1990s, but the perception of nationwide crime has not always followed. Pessimism about nationwide crime peaked in 2009, when 79 percent said that crime was increasing despite a fourth year in a row of the FBI’s violent crime rate dropping.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How Denver Will Analyze Data to Prevent Crime

Denver’s public safety officials want to know what drives crime trends in neighborhoods and how to stop it from happening in the first place. They plan to dig into the nitty gritty data available through the U.S. Census Bureau and their own crime analytics to figure it out. Then, they want to recruit city agencies to help address the underlying issues.

Three-quarters of the people in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood live in poverty, and few residents worry about paying the bills. They all experience crime, and Denver’s public safety officials want to know what drives crime trends in neighborhoods and how to stop it from happening in the first place. They plan to dig into the nitty gritty data available through the U.S. Census Bureau and their own crime analytics to figure it out. Then, they want to recruit city agencies to help address the underlying issues, the Denver Post reports. Understanding those differences and other socioeconomic factors through data analysis of each census tract is part of the Denver Department of Public Safety’s new plan to prevent crime and improve quality of life, says department director Troy Riggs.

The program, called the Denver Opportunity Index, is an attempt to better inform first responders about the communities they serve, pinpoint neighborhoods where more help is needed and connect city departments attempting to combat socioeconomic factors that affect public safety, Riggs said Wednesday. “If we’re serious about long-term public safety, we need to change our mindset,” he said. Using data to inform policing and public safety policy is nothing new, said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. It’s always good for officers to know the reality of the community they serve, he said, but the real advantage of a program like Denver’s is that it connects a wide variety of city resources to work together to prevent crime. “This is all about prevention, and very often prevention starts outside the enforcement arena,” Wexler said. “We’ve got to get beyond police officers just patrolling streets and start asking the question of ‘Why is crime higher in certain parts of the city as opposed to others?’” said Mayor Michael Hancock.

from https://thecrimereport.org

‘No Significant Change’ in Overall Violent Crime: Study

Violent crime against young adult males has increased, but there was no “statistically significant change” in the overall number of Americans who experienced violent crime, according to the most recent estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

Violent crime against young adult males has increased, but there was no “statistically significant change” in the overall number of Americans who experienced violent crime, according to the most recent estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

In a report released Wednesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the rate of violent criminal victimizations against males 12 years or older increased from 15.9 per 1,000 males to 19.6 per 1,000 from 2015 to 2016.

The report, based on revised estimates of criminal victimization from the 2016 NCVS, found that  among persons ages 25 to 34, violent victimizations increased from 21.8 to 28.4 per 1,000 persons over the same period.

The BJS also noted that the number of U.S. residents age 12 or older who reported they had experienced one or more violent criminal victimizations during the prior six months increased from 2.7 million to 2.9 million, but added “there was no statistically significant difference in the rate of overall violent victimization (18.6 compared to 19.7 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older).

Moreover, although the rate of aggravated assault increased slightly nationwide for all U.S. residents, the rate of rape or sexual assault decreased from 2015 to 2016 from 1.6 to 1.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons, BJS reported.

Property crimes reported to NCVS increased over the same period, from 110.7 to 118.6 victimizations per 1,000 households, the BJS said, estimating a total number of 15.8 million incidents.

The report, “Criminal Victimization, 2016: Revised (NCJ 252121),” was written by BJS statisticians Rachel E. Morgan, Ph.D., and Grace Kena.

The report can be downloaded here.  Related documents and additional information about BJS’s statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at www.bjs.gov.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Murder Total Steady, St. Louis Official Wants Tough Sentences

Violent crime in St. Louis is down 10 percent but the homicide rate is about the same. Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards wants the mandatory minimum sentence for gun crime to be higher.

Violent crime in St. Louis is down 10 percent compared with last year, but the homicide rate is fairly constant, with 152 homicides in 2018, compared to 158 at the same time last year. At least half are drug-related. There was a flicker of hope in September, when the city was down 25 homicides compared to last year, but that changed after six murders were reported during a particularly violent weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. One area where officers have seen progress is in “Hayden’s rectangle,” an area named for the police chief, where law enforcement has focused resources due to high crime. In that rectangle, homicides are down from last year 19 percent; robberies are down 16 percent; and aggravated assaults with weapons are down 11 percent; with violent crime overall down 13 percent, Hayden said. “That strategy is continuing to work,” he said.

The police department is still down more than 130 officers. Witnesses to crimes remain reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation, making it difficult to close cases. A lack of state laws to deter gun crimes has forced the police to turn to federal courts to indict some suspects. Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards wants to see the mandatory minimum sentence for armed criminal action raised from its current ceiling of three years to at least 15 years for nonfatal shootings, and 25 years for fatal shootings. “What I want is for the offender, the person with that gun, to think about the consequences,” Edwards said. “People commit crimes based on risk and reward. What I would like to do is put some teeth in our law and to have this law to address risk and consequences. And the consequences must be significant enough that I am somewhat deterred, or will pause and think about my actions.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Perception Gap: Americans Think Crime is Worse Than It Is

Violent crime has declined in the past few decades, say government data, but many in the public believes it is worse. “Definitely more crime, more shooting,” one citizen tells the Christian Science Monitor.

In the first of a series called “Perception Gaps,” the Christian Science Monitor says that the U.S. is the safest it has been in decades, but there’s a big difference between what Americans perceive to be true and what statistics actually show. There has been a substantial decline in the rate of reported violent crime since it peaked in the early 1990s, 48 percent according to FBI statistics and 74 percent according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Yet seventeen Gallup surveys conducted since the early 1990s found that at least six in 10 Americans believed there was more crime in the U.S. compared with the year before. The Monitor asked random people in Somerville, Ma., if they thought there was more crime now than in the past.

Among the quotes gathered: “A lot of the media coverage of tends to focus on the negative aspects and if people are seeing that all the time and I think it’s natural that you’re going to feel that it’s getting worse even if it’s not.” “I just don’t feel as comfortable walking down the street at night. I’m just saying, in a world where I am a recovering addict, I see a lot more probably than the regular person sees.” “Anything can happen. I just feel like you can’t trust anybody.” “Definitely more crime, more shooting. It’s a different area. I’m in my fifties, it’s a different time. Kids are more wild, not as calm as they used to be. Things are different now, from back 20 years ago, so it makes you be more afraid because of all the fear that’s in your face. It’s more dangerous for me.” The Monitor‘s conclusion: Most people thought that crime was either worse or the same. And a few people thought it was slightly better.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NFL Player Arrests Down Since 2015 Crackdown

In 2006, National Football League players were arrested or cited at least 71 times for various alleged crimes.  Since new policies were adopted in 2015, player arrests and criminal citations have dropped to about 38 per year.

In 2006, National Football League players were arrested or cited at least 71 times for various alleged crimes. The problem got so bad that the league cracked down after hiring Roger Goodell as commissioner that August. Another surge of criminal cases disrupted the league in 2013 and 2014. Since new policies were adopted in 2015, player arrests and criminal citations have dropped to about 38 per year since then, compared to about 57 per year in the 10 previous years, reports USA Today. Drunk driving arrests are down to about nine per year since January 2015, compared to 15 per year from 2005-2014. Domestic abuse arrests dipped from about seven per year from 2005-2014 to about five per year since 2015.

“I think we’re a much more enlightened population, and that makes us stronger and better and I think also has an impact on actions,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president for social responsibility. “I think you see the results in actions by incidents going down.” Nobody’s celebrating. The league still considers one arrest to be too many. At the same time, the data shows that the league experienced a watershed year in 2014, leading to changes that seem to be lasting. Isaacson said the league has beefed-up educational programs to help players and staff gain broader understanding of sexual assault and domestic violence beyond just “how to stay out of trouble.” The NFL also has increased the discipline for first-time domestic violence offenses to six-game suspensions.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Can Sessions Rightly Take Credit for Crime Drop?

After the FBI said there was a small drop in reported violent crime last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said working with law enforcement was responsible. Others said the numbers contradict the “American carnage” theory of President Trump.

When reported violent crime in the U.S. rose in 2015 and 2016 after many years of decline, advocates of tougher policing and harsher sentencing warned that rising crime threatened to wipe out hard-won gains in safety. Criminal justice reformers said the rise may merely be a blip in a long-term downward trend. Now, the FBI says violent crime went down last year. In a speech Monday to police leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Those are the kind of results you get when you support law enforcement. Those are the kind of results we get when we work together, ” reports Reason. He added, “If you want more shootings and more death, then listen to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or antifa. If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been studying this for 35 years.”

Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice says it was “galling to see” Sessions cite national crime data to support his position on policing. “Ascribing credit of any crime increase or decrease to a single year and a half of federal policy is just beyond belief,” he says. The FBI data showed that murder decreased eight percent in cities with more than 1 million people. “One would take this as rebuke to the ‘American carnage’ theory that cities are out of control and only Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump can save them,” he says. A conservative criminal justice reformer said the new crime numbers reinforce the position that sentencing overhauls in red states have been largely successful in reducing crime. Mark Holden, the Koch network’s point man on criminal justice reform, said, “The reality is, data-driven prison and sentencing reforms, like those that have passed in places like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina, reduce crime while giving people opportunities to transform their lives.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

More Murders Happen During Cities’ Warmer Months

In Philadelphia, there were 2.6 shooting victims per day on average when it was cold, 3.4 on pleasant days, and 4.4 on hot ones. On average, about twice as many people are shot in northern cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit when it’s hot versus when it’s cold.

The U.S. murder rate reached a modern low in 2014, capping a quarter-century decline. Then it rose in 2015 and 2016. Why gun violence increased in those two years remains somewhat of a mystery, and no single factor is likely to explain it, but there is one potential contributor that is rarely talked about: weather, writes New Orleans-based crime analyst Jeff Asher in the New York Times. Temperatures across the nation were higher on average in those two years than they were in 2014. The relationship between temperature and crime has been discussed for decades. Fewer people are murdered during colder months than during warmer ones. Asher looked at 10 cities that make daily shooting data available and compared them with the day’s high temperature. It’s possible to calculate the average number of shooting victims per cold day (under 50 degrees Fahrenheit), per pleasant day (50 to 84) and per hot day (85 and up).

In Philadelphia, there were 2.6 shooting victims per day on average when it was cold, 3.4 on pleasant days, and 4.4 on hot ones. On average, about twice as many people are shot in northern cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit when it’s hot versus when it’s cold. In southern cities like Atlanta and New Orleans, the effect exists but is weaker. Shootings generally increased in nine of the 10 cities as temperatures rose. San Francisco, the exception, has comparatively temperate weather, averaging just 2.5 cold days per year and 10.6 hot days. Why the rise in shootings during warmer weather? Mostly because people are outside more. (There’s also some evidence that hot weather increases irritability and anger). This can be seen by looking closely at gun violence in Philadelphia, a city that provides data on whether a victim was inside or outside. Outdoor gun violence increases in the city as the temperature rises, while there’s virtually no change for indoors.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Women Runners, Golfers Talk Self-Defense After Killings

An Iowa meeting to discuss safety issues drew 200 women to hear from police and share best practices on how to stay safe while running alone. Kathleen Meek urged women to “know what’s going around you so you can be confident in what you’re doing.”

Female runners must endure comments yelled by passing motorists along city streets. It’s a disturbingly common part of life for female athletes. It’s the spotlight after the deaths of three women attacked while engaged in sports they love, the Associated Press reports. The killings raised alarms about how women can defend themselves and why they must be ready to fight off attackers. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Wendy Martinez, 35, was attacked as she went for a run. She was stabbed in what was likely a random attack. A day earlier, Iowa State University golf star Celia Barquin Arozamena was stabbed to death in a random attack while golfing by herself in broad daylight near campus in Ames, Ia. That attack came after the body of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was killed near her hometown of Brooklyn, Ia. She had disappeared after going for a run.

Tibbetts’ death prompted an outpouring from runners on social media under the hashtag #MilesforMollie. Women shared experiences of being harassed and followed and vowed to keep running as a show of defiance. An Iowa meeting to discuss safety issues drew 200 women to hear from police and share best practices on how to stay safe while running alone. Kathleen Meek urged women to “know what’s going around you so you can be confident in what you’re doing.” Other suggestions included using the buddy system, joining a running club and informing others of intended routes should something go wrong. Des Moines police spokesman Paul Parizek warned women to know their abilities should they find themselves in danger. “There’s a lot of conversation now … do I need a gun? Do I need a stun gun? Pepper spray? … Well, that depends on what you’re willing to do, what you think you need to do and what you’re capable of doing,” he said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Murder Rates Dropping in 2018: A Preliminary Analysis

The NYU’s Brennan Center calculates that murder rates in America’s 29 largest cities will drop by 7.6 percent over the previous year; falling off to levels approximately equal to 2015 rates. Notably, the report projects a 35 percent decline in homicides in San Francisco, 23.2 percent in Chicago, and 20.9 percent in Baltimore.

A new report issued by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University projects an overall decline in crime in big cities in 2018, with a larger drop-off in homicides, particularly in cities where violent crime has spiked in recent years.

Authors of the report calculate that murder rates in America’s 29 largest cities will drop by 7.6 percent over the previous year; falling off to levels approximately equal to 2015 rates.

Notably, the report projects a 35 percent decline in homicides in San Francisco, 23.2 percent in Chicago, and 20.9 percent in Baltimore. If projections hold, this would mean a hard reverse in Baltimore’s murder trend, dropping to levels not seen since 2014.

“These findings directly undercut claims that American cities are experiencing a crime wave. Instead, they suggest that increases in the murder rate in 2015 and 2016 were temporary, rather than signaling a reversal in the long-term downward trend,” wrote the authors.

Despite an overall downward trend, the news isn’t good for a few other cities: in particular, researchers calculate a 34.9 percent increase in Washington, D.C.’s murder rates over last year, and a 29.9 percent increase in Austin.

To estimate year-end crime and murder rates, researchers used raw data from individual police departments, interpreting incident-level data to be consistent with each city’s Uniform Crime Report data to the FBI for previous years. Nineteen cities provided complete data on crimes that occurred this year, and 29 cities contributed murder data.

To estimate year-end crime data, researchers used raw data from 19 cities on crimes that have occurred this year, interpreting incident-level data to be consistent with each cities’ UCR reports for previous years. The remaining 11 cities could not provide raw data for 2018. For rate calculations, the authors projected city population assuming the average rate of population growth for the past three years remained constant through 2018.

Overall, authors project a 2.9 percent decrease in crime rates, “essentially holding stable,” they wrote. “If this estimate holds, this group of cities will experience the lowest crime rate this year since at least 1990.”

Year-end data for 2017 issued by the FBI Uniform Crime Report is forthcoming.

Crime and Murder 2018: A Preliminary Analysis was published by the Brennan Center of Justice at the NYU School of Law. The report, authored by Ames C. Grawert, Adureh Onyekwere, and Cameron Kimble, can be found online here. This summary was prepared by TCR’s Deputy Editor-Investigations Victoria Mckenzie

from https://thecrimereport.org