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Rising murder rate threatens big cities

A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) analysis of data says that murder rates have surged 24 percent in 36 of the nation’s 50 largest cities so far this year.

“A sharp rise in homicides this year is hitting large U.S. cities across the country, signaling a new public-safety risk unleashed during the coronavirus pandemic, and amid recession and a national backlash against police tactics,” says the WSJ.

According to data by the FBI, crime rates, including murder, dropped throughout the 1990s. While crime rates in many categories are still very low, the rise in murders has experts concerned due to sociological causes, including relaxed rules about crime enforcement and frustration mounting from enforced lockdowns.  

“It only gets worse from here,” said Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “As the shootings continue, so will retaliation. It’s a vicious cycle that the NYPD worked hard to mitigate, but that they are no longer able and, in some cases, willing to do,” he continued.

While it’s true that some categories of crime are down because of the enforced social distancing during the pandemic, it’s harder to make the case that cities are safer because of the spike in murders and in riots associated with “social justice” protests.

“Thus, a grim tradeoff is already being made between saving different lives: saving the lives of those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 versus saving the lives of those who are most vulnerable to suicide, substance abuse, and domestic violence,” said John Hopkins experts on pandemic response before the murder rate shot up.

Many of the safety valves that society relies on to dampen crime – like schools, police enforcement, work, shopping, libraries and social interaction – are missing, says the report.  So is much of the economic activity related to crime.

“People have reacted to the pandemic in all sorts of ways in decreasing economic activity,” said David Abrams, a University of Pennsylvania law and economics professor, who tracks crime rates in 25 cities. “They stopped going to work, they stopped driving their car. They stopped walking around the city, and crime also stopped.”

However, the opposite seems to be true for murder and shootings, which makes other crime seem irrelevant, according to NPR.

“Seem like [crime] got worser to me. Just yesterday, I saw it behind my house,” said Shauntavius Sims, 35, of Chicago. “Some boys just came and shot while me and my baby was in the back. Like every day, it’s constantly on the news. Every day, it’s something.”

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Audrey Hayes / Source

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