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

Bakersfield, Ca., Shaken by This Week’s Mass Killing

The California city set a murder record last year, which authorities blame on gangs and drugs. District Attorney Lisa Green blames criminal justice reforms for releasing “dangerous criminals.”

Even by the grim standards of the place with the highest murder rate in California, the shooting spree that killed five this week after a domestic dispute has shaken the industrial community of Bakersfield, the New York Times reports. “We have a lot of homicides, up and down the Central Valley,” said Kern County sheriff Donny Youngblood. Calling the nation’s epidemic of mass shootings “our new norm,” he said, “Now it’s our turn.” Kern County authorities blame the increase in the murder rate on killings involving gangs and drugs. Part of the county is a border between two rival gang territories, said sheriff’s Lt. Mark King.

Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said she had seen instances of domestic violence increase in recent years, as well as gang murders. She puts much of the blame for her county’s murder outbreak on California’s moves to reduce its prison population.  “I definitely believe the criminal justice reforms have released dangerous criminals who should be incarcerated,” she said. King agreed with that assessment and said that many in law enforcement did, too. Criminal justice activists dispute a connection. The region, about 115 miles north of Los Angeles, has missed out on the economic boom of California’s coastal areas. The county’s unemployment rate is over 8 percent, almost twice that of the state, and residents say gangs and drug use are  rampant. The killings on Wednesday began in a desolate section of southeast Bakersfield. The sheriff’s department identified the gunman as Javier Casarez, 54. Last year, Kern County set a record with 101 murders, even as murders dropped across California.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Hate Crimes Surge Globally, Yet Remain Under-Reported: Study

Despite claims by law enforcement that people who are most susceptible to hate crimes are “hard to reach” populations, a UK study finds that victims would report incidents to officers if they didn’t feel barriers were insurmountable.

Hate crimes—violence and micro-aggressions directed towards people based on their identity, “difference” or perceived vulnerability—are surging world-wide, even as many victims seem to prefer suffering in silence rather than report the offense, according to research published in the September issue of the British journal Criminology & Criminal Justice.

Neil Chakraborti, head of the Department of Criminology and director of the Centre for Hate Studies at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, analyzed data from more than 2,000 hate crime victims of all kinds throughout the world and found a confluence of factors that stops victims from reporting incidents.

Victims view reporting as a waste of time both for themselves and police because they believe officers don’t grasp the seriousness of hate crimes and are more with tackling different types of crimes. Victims’ previous negative experiences—or those shared by family members, friends and members of their own community— with police also can reinforce a lack of trust to report hate crime incidents, the paper said.

“As a result, most victims tended to normalize their experiences of repeat harassment and hostility as a routine feature of being ‘different,’ which in turn reinforced their sense of alienation,” Chakraborti wrote.

Furthermore, the lack of engagement from law enforcement and support organizations reinforce victims’ reluctance to report hate incidents. Despite law enforcement’s position that people who are most susceptible to hate crimes are “hard to reach” populations, the author finds that victims would report incidents to officers if they didn’t feel barriers were insurmountable.

Furthermore, Chakraborti argued that community engagement strategies commonly fail to involve those most affected by hate crime.

He called for immediate action to fix failing systems.

“Without urgent action, hate crime victims will continue to reject opportunities to report their experiences; will become increasingly detached from support structures; and will continue to have little faith in criminal justice responses,” Chakraborti warned in the article, which was first posted online late last year.

More than 14,000 hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England and Wales between July and September 2016. Similar spikes occurred in the United States, France, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands, and fewer than one in four hate crime victims report incidents to the police, according to author.

The author cites “trigger events” as possible initiators of hate crime and cites a Southern Law Poverty Law report indicating Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency as a trigger event for racial hate crimes in the United States.

According to Richard Rothstein, a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and author of the book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” racial hate crimes can be curbed by dismantling systematic residential segregation.

“If people live so far distant from each other and have such different life experiences, they don’t understand each other, and that feeds racial intolerance,” Rothstein told The Crime Report in a recent interview.

A copy of Prof. Chakraborti’s study is available for purchase here.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern J. Gabriel Ware. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Office Homicides Linked to ‘Red-Collar Crime’

Homicide is the third leading cause of workplace death. Some of it is due to workers who kill to commit fraud.

The third leading cause of workplace death (behind “falls to a lower level” and “roadway collisions with other vehicles”) is homicide, The Atlantic reports, citing the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics study on fatal occupational injuries. What’s behind the statistic? News reports point to doomed love triangles and disgruntled co-workers. Another cause has been largely overlooked: fraud. Imagine a boss who kills his assistant to keep a Ponzi scheme afloat, or a crooked accountant who poisons an especially thorough auditor. In the world of certified fraud examiners, these offenses have their own label: red-collar crime.

Frank Perri, who teaches forensic accounting at DePaul University, coined the term after working on a murder case in 2005, an embezzlement scam that ended with a salesman—Perri’s client—convicted of smashing his partner’s skull with a hammer. Perri says his client was well-spoken and had no known history of violence or arrests. That’s part of why he was so dangerous. “Research shows the more that people reflect our own image, the more we are inclined to give them what is called an ‘implied credibility,’ ” he says. “But these people can be very predatory.” In “Red Collar Crime,” published in the International Journal of Psychological Studies in 2015, Perri describes a few dozen fraud-related homicides and attempted homicides. Two traits correlate most with white-collar violence: narcissism and psychopathy. In a 2010 study, researchers administered a test frequently used to gauge psychopathy to 203 managers and executives at seven companies. On a 40-point scale, the average person scores 3 or below. Eight subjects pulled a score of 30 or higher, which is serial-killer territory.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Why is Nashville Crime Up in Booming Economy?

A series of shootings has parts of the city on edge. Record-low unemployment may be leading to more crimes against people who are spending more money, says one criminologist.

As police continue to investigate a series of shootings in Nashville, residents in the area have remained on alert, some afraid of getting caught themselves in a wave of violent activity. The killings of a man and a woman who were robbed outside The Cobra bar early Friday morning have caused residents living in the area to think twice about walking outside at night, The Tennessean reports. The double homicide came on the heels of another man being fatally shot while walking to a bus stop, a man critically wounded by gunfire moments after that, and a woman shot two weeks ago while walking her dog. “People have been a little more on edge,” said Daniel Yocum, 25, who visits The Cobra at least once a week.

While the number of people shot throughout Nashville is on pace to hit 430 in 2018 — the highest in more than a decade — East Nashville, where The Cobra shooting happened, has seen a dramatic drop in violent crime since the mid-2000s. Nashville as a whole has seen a recent uptick in violence. Boom times don’t necessarily lead to lower crime. Nashville has had record-low unemployment and the economy has been thriving, but crime is up. It’s possible there’s more opportunity for crime, said criminologist Dylan Jackson of the University of Texas at San Antonio. “People are moving about … they’re spending more money, they have more discretionary income,” Jackson said. “They have more opportunity to be victimized.” That could explain a rise in car theft and robberies. Another explanation could be an affordable housing crisis exacerbated by the booming economy, said Jeffrey Butts of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The social stresses of shared housing and multifamily housing increase the chances that adolescents become frustrated and alienated,” Butts said, creating an environment conducive to more crime.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Two Men in Custody After Three Killed in Nashville

Amid a series of seemingly indiscriminate shootings that have left three dead, two others seriously injured and a city on edge, Nashville police are questioning two suspects.

Amid a series of seemingly indiscriminate shootings that have left three dead, two others seriously injured and a city on edge, Nashville police have taken two men into custody for questioning, The Tennessean reports. The possible break in the case comes as each of the shootings — the first of which happened nearly two weeks ago — have remained unsolved. While no charges have yet been filed, the two men were both served warrants Monday related to other alleged crimes. Nashville police spokeswoman Kris Mumford said evidence has linked the fatal shootings together.

Lacory Lytle, 24, and Demontrey Logsdon, 20, are being questioned about a double homicide outside a bar and the killing of a man walking to his bus stop. After the shooting that left two dead, two other victims were robbed, but were not shot. Police said Lytle is accused of using a credit card belonging to a woman who survived the robbery. Killed in the series of at least four similar shootings were Kendall Rice, 31, who was walking to catch the bus to work Aug. 14, and Bartley Teal, 33, and Jaime Sarrantonio, 30, who were fatally shot outside The Cobra bar on Friday.

from https://thecrimereport.org

With More Police on Streets, No Weekend Chicago Murders

Chicago’s five most violent police districts will get 600 additional weekend officers and police will continue to break up large unsanctioned parties “until we’re comfortable things are stabilized,” says Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Chicago’s five most violent police districts will get 600 additional weekend officers — and police will continue to break up large unsanctioned parties — “until we’re comfortable things are stabilized,” says Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The costly overtime that is difficult to sustain was hastily authorized to prevent a repeat of the bloodbath on the first weekend of August that left 71 people shot, 12 of them dead — and it worked. There were no homicides and only 33 shootings this past weekend.

Johnson was asked how long the additional attention and manpower would last at a time when the Fraternal Order of Police has warned of burnout by officers whose requests to take time off have been refused. “Until we’re comfortable that things are stabilized, we’ll continue to have ’em out” there, the superintendent said. Asked about the different crime totals on the first two August weekends, Johnson said, “We looked at large gatherings … and paid attention to ’em. But crime is cyclical. You never know when this stuff is gonna pop out.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded Johnson for “getting on something immediately quick” and “making adjustments” in police tactics.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How One Chicago Neighborhood Has Cut Violence

While Chicago overall still is struggling with a violent crime problem, the neighborhood of Englewood has cut homicides and shootings nearly in half. Getting the credit is an effort by residents to work closely with the police.

Chicago has made impressive strides toward becoming a safer place. Even as it struggles with spates of violence such as during the first weekend in August – when more than 75 people were shot and 12 died – the city has steadily reduced the number of shootings over the past two years, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Even as Chicago has seen a steady decline in violence, the South Side neighborhood of Englewood has cut its homicides and shootings by nearly double the rate seen citywide, reducing them by nearly half – the equivalent of saving 21 lives. In 2017, the neighborhood saw the lowest level of gun violence since the police department started keeping records in 1999.

The key to the reductions, researchers and residents say, has been the coming together of community members and police officers targeting the people and places most plagued by violence. Mothers sit out on the most violent corners, police officials have reinvented how they deploy officers and work with the community, and a coalition of organizations provides therapy and job training to the men who are most likely to shoot or be shot. And while gun violence remains a problem in this neighborhood, with 29 murders in the first seven months of this year, the decline in violent crime is starting to be felt by people in the hardest-hit areas. Many say it takes a community-wide effort. “You can’t just expect policing to solve it. That’s not going to work,” says Tonika Johnson, who helps lead the neighborhood’s Public Safety Task Force. “You can’t just expect residents to be able to work alone to solve it. It really has to be a combination of things.”

 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Las Vegas Crime Drops; Sheriff Credits Patrol Officers

Crime rates in the Las Vegas area are “steadily going down,” a trend Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo attributes partly to a boost in patrol officers who have recently joined the ranks. Lombardo said violent crime has decreased about 7 percent while property crime is down 3 percent.

Crime rates in the Las Vegas area are “steadily going down,” something Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo partly credits to a boost in patrol officers who have recently joined the ranks, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Citing new year-to-date statistics, Lombardo said violent crime has decreased about 7 percent while property crime is down 3 percent. He spoke Thursday at a fundraiser for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation. The dip in crime, which Lombardo noted has decreased steadily over the past two years, comes after 2016, when Lombardo described the havoc as the “forest” being on “fire.”

Since he assumed office in 2015, about 720 officers have been hired, placing the agency in the desired ratio of two officers available for every 1,000 residents, Lombardo said. About 270 additional officers will suit up through his next term. “Cops make a difference,” he said. The foundation used the third annual “Lunch with the Sheriff” event to raise private funding to supplement government budgets. It helped collect about $3 million for a “state of the art” training facility for Southern Nevada authorities.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Homicides in Orlando This Year Exceed 2017 Total

Police Chief John Mina as no explanation for the increase. “Unlike car burglaries or robberies, which we can go after proactively with enforcement efforts and operations, there are no trends in the homicides that we are seeing,” he said.

There have already been 31 homicides in Orlando this year, compared with 28 for all of 2017 and 37 the year before, which does not include the 49 killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Sgt. Joe Capece, head of the homicide division, said there’s no particular reason for the increase as motives for homicides have run the gamut from domestic to rage to drug-related. Police Chief John Mina said police cannot predict homicides. “Unlike car burglaries or robberies, which we can go after proactively with enforcement efforts and operations, there are no trends in the homicides that we are seeing,” he said.

Detectives are still working to solve many of those cases, having so far closed only about 60 percent of the 25 homicide cases with 31 victims. That’s below the 85 percent closed in each of the past two years. Capece believes the closure rate will be between 80 percent and 85 percent by this time next year. “Our detectives are very tenacious and are good advocates for victims and their families,” he said. “We do anticipate our clearance rate to go up.” Of the 15 cases considered closed, Orlando police have made 10 arrests; three cases are under review by the state attorney’s office to determine if they are justifiable homicides; and two suspects are dead, including Gary Lindsey Jr., who committed suicide after killing four children in June. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has 35 homicide cases this year. It is on pace to surpass last year’s total of 42 homicides.

from https://thecrimereport.org