Editorial: Democrats say crime is down … if you…
by Washington Examiner| September 14, 2021 12:00 AM
In 2020, the year police were turned into the bad guys, murder rose by 25% in the U.S., according to preliminary FBI data. That is an astounding increase for a single year.
Correlation does not necessarily imply causation. But then, sometimes it does, or at least it seems to, and that has Democrats worried about their political future. Most of them are now desperately backtracking from the “defund the police” ideology that they broadly embraced as a party last summer.
But then some other Democrats are outright denying that the problem exists. Partisan Democratic group Third Way just released an analysis of crime data that calls fears of increased crime “hysteria.” The argument sounds suspiciously similar to an apocryphal quotation once attributed to the late D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. Legend has it that Barry claimed crime was not so bad in his city, so long as you didn’t count all the murders.
Whether or not Barry actually said something that dopey, this Democratic group just did. The real wonder is how two reporters from NBC News gave it such credulous treatment. Their argument is, to put it very charitably, “a moral and political dead end .”
In Chicago, murders are up 60% from last year. Many major cities face a similar problem, and there is abundant evidence that one major cause is police retreat in the face of anti-police activism. Yes, there are bad police, and police make bad decisions like everyone else. But given the certainty that they will be blamed even if their actions are blameless, and knowing they can count on zero support from hostile mayors and city councils, why would police take the risks necessary for effective law enforcement? Why would a beat cop in a city like Portland fret over anything other than his pending application to the Bend, Oregon, Police Department?
Reuters reported this week on its own investigation into Minneapolis policing practices after the murder of George Floyd in police custody in 2020. The news service’s findings are well-quantified and convincing :
This sort of thing has been happening in many major cities. It not only helps explain the sharp spike in the national body count, but also why fewer non-murder crimes are reported as “known to the police” — the metric by which the FBI measures the so-called “index crimes” of murder, robbery, assault, rape, arson, larceny, and auto theft.
Another major problem in cities with liberal, soft-on-crime leaders has been a severe shortage of officers. According to Reuters, this problem is so bad in Minneapolis that detectives are being pulled off investigations lest emergency calls go unanswered. And unfortunately, studies show that investigators’ effectiveness in solving murders is a statistically significant factor in deterring them.
American leaders learned how to reduce crime during the 1990s. The experience of Rudy Giuliani’s New York City remains a definitive vindication of proactive policing. By enforcing the law consistently, even for minor offenses, police managed to yank many career criminals off the street, curbing their impact and creating a community-wide sense that crime does not pay. The NYPD brought back civic order and drove both property and violent crime down to levels unseen in decades. New York City, considered ungovernable as of 1990, became a public safety victory for other cities to imitate.
One lesson of New York was that big, modern cities cannot live up to their potential without well-funded and well-deployed police departments that are willing to confront crime aggressively. Unfortunately, Democrats and the far Left are trying to make everyone unlearn these lessons by denouncing all legitimate concerns about crime as racist.
The great tragedy is that, in the name of what they pretentiously call “equity,” they are enabling predators and causing far more minorities to be victimized. In 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, blacks accounted for an astonishing 54% of murder victims in the U.S. despite comprising only about 13% of the population.
This situation has gotten worse along with the rise of the radical Black Lives Matter movement. The absolute number of black murder victims grew by 23% from 2014 to 2019. When the 2020 data become available, it is a near-certainty that the further increase in black murder victims since last year will have been even greater than the overall 25%.
And so in the name of keeping police away from blacks, radical anti-police activists have created a situation in which nearly twice as many black Americans die every single year from homicide as were killed by lynching in the entire history of racist violence and terrorism known as Jim Crow .
Democratic denialists downplay the current spike in murders at their own risk. Voters are not quite as stupid as they think. It is time Democrats rejoined the bipartisan consensus that crime is a bad thing and that proactive policing will save thousands of black lives.