Crime

The Good News: Despite Duff Economy, Big City Murder Rates Drop

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From the Washington Post:

Violent crime has plummeted in the Washington area and in major cities across the country, a trend criminologists describe as baffling and unexpected. 

The District, New York and Los Angeles are on track for fewer killings this year than in any other year in at least four decades. Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other cities are also seeing notable reductions in homicides.

"Experts did not see this coming at all," said Andrew Karmen, a criminologist and professor of sociology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

In the District and Prince George's County, homicides are down about 17 percent this year.

Criminologists have different theories about why crime is down so much, although many agree that the common belief that crime is connected to the economy is false.

Baltimore and Dallas are two big cities that are not enjoying a drop in murders. Much of the rest of the Post article is D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier crowing about how her department's techniques are the reason for the drop, including bigger cash payouts to citizens for tips that lead to convictions, and deeper embedding of beat cops into communities.

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  1. Violent crime has plummeted in the Washington area and in major cities across the country, a trend criminologists describe as baffling and unexpected.

    High ammo prices, perhaps?

    Nothing left worth stealing?

  2. “Criminologists have different theories about why crime is down so much, although many agree that the common belief that crime is connected to the economy is false.”

    We’ve known that since the Great Depression.

    So why does crime rise? An over abundance of unsupervised, idle, young males.

  3. But I thought Heller was going to destroy Washington?

  4. What Can’t Obama do?

  5. Guess times are tough for hitmen too.

  6. Crime rates are strongly, positively correlated to inflation over the history of the last milennium. We have been experiencing a deflationary contraction of the money supply, hence, crime rates have been going down.

    This is not a surprise to many of us.

  7. So why does crime rise? An over abundance of unsupervised, idle, young males.

    Undoubtedly a large part of the answer, especially for petty crime. Another large part of the answer would be the creation of lucrative black markets by the state, which are what drive organized crime.

  8. Crime rates are strongly, positively correlated to inflation over the history of the last milennium.

    Two thoughts;

    (1) Linky?

    (2) Uh-oh.

  9. But…but.. people still have guns! This can’t be right! Everyone knows Guns Cause Violence!

  10. Who’s got the energy to go out and kill anymore when life is so depressing, *sigh*

    Meanwhile, hows that suicide rate?

  11. That is if you can believe government crime statistics. Cities have been repeatedly caught downplaying crime statistics in order that the police and city hall can claim that they are doing a good job

  12. My pet theory is that the unusually cool summer is having an effect. But is the weather cooler than usual across the whole country, or just on the East coast?

  13. DJF, I am sure you are right about crime statistics in general, but the murder numbers are pretty hard to fudge without getting caught.

  14. DJF, I am sure you are right about crime statistics in general, but the murder numbers are pretty hard to fudge without getting caught.

    Why? Drop the reporting paperwork in the shredder and who’s going to know? If the agency in charge of reporting the numbers is lying, what independent verification do you have?

  15. “Criminologists have different theories about why crime is down so much, although many agree that the common belief that crime is connected to the economy is false.”

    We’ve known that since the Great Depression.

    So why does crime rise? An over abundance of unsupervised, idle, young males.

    Isn’t the reason bad economies are linked to higher crime rates that young males cannot find jobs? And so you have an over abundance of unsupervised, idle, young males.

  16. So we will see a corresponding drop in local PDs getting APCs and other military hardware? Right?

  17. Cities have been repeatedly caught downplaying crime statistics in order that the police and city hall can claim that they are doing a good job

    I think it depends on the political climate. Police Chiefs have generally inflated crime statistics or, at least overstated the impact of crime, to scare lawmakers into increasing budgets.

    The opposite was true in the British world where the police understate crime numbers in order to assure the public that they are doing a good job and keeping them safe.

  18. So we will see a corresponding drop in local PDs getting APCs and other military hardware? Right?

    Why do you love crime so, brotherben? You’re just shilling for Big Guy In Possession Of More Than An Ounce Of Pot, aren’t you.

  19. “Crime rates are strongly, positively correlated to inflation over the history of the last milennium. We have been experiencing a deflationary contraction of the money supply, hence, crime rates have been going down.

    This is not a surprise to many of us.”

    Link?

  20. In other news, gun sales have gone through the roof this year.

    Correlation does not equal causation, but they should at least have mentioned it as a possible reason!!!

  21. @ Thelonious Nick—-

    It’s not just on the east coast. I don’t get it. I live in Bloomington/Evansville, Indiana. The weather is like St. Louis normally, which is the worst heat I’ve ever experienced. An average July day is usually 90-95 with 80% humidity. Just ball-soaking heat.

    The end of June was very hot, but this has to be the coolest July I’ve ever had. This weekend the temp was, I shit you not, 70-75 all three days. I’m fairly convinced something fucked is going on.

    Maybe Storm is using her powers for good these days.

  22. I love discussions of crime statistics. It’s hard enough getting great response rates (and a minimum of lying) about legal activity. Consider the under-reporting going on when one party to every transaction (i.e. crime) is actively trying to hide the fact the transaction took place.

    Crime rates…inflation…over the history of the last milennium

    My second favorite statistic is inflation. Perhaps the comment alludes to inflation since 2001? Otherwise, I’d love to see inflation and crime statistics from the time of the Fourth Crusade.

    For one good study on historical inflation, consider Hellie’s The Economy and Material Culture of Russia, 1600-1725.

  23. Crime rates are strongly, positively correlated to inflation over the history of the last milennium. We have been experiencing a deflationary contraction of the money supply, hence, crime rates have been going down.

    How does deflation reduce crime?

  24. I second Happy’s idea that gun and ammo sales ballooned a while back…

    Any Reason editor willing to dig up some data and draw us some pretty graphs?

  25. I live in a major city and it might just be that the reduction in crime is due to a reduction in residents. If half of your city’s houses are boarded up, then there’s fewer people to commit crimes. Hell, there’s even fewer potential victims.

  26. “The end of June was very hot, but this has to be the coolest July I’ve ever had. This weekend the temp was, I shit you not, 70-75 all three days. I’m fairly convinced something fucked is going on”

    It’s due to an odd positioning of the Jet Stream.

  27. The end of June was very hot, but this has to be the coolest July I’ve ever had. This weekend the temp was, I shit you not, 70-75 all three days. I’m fairly convinced something fucked is going on.

    Maybe Storm is using her powers for good these days.

    It’s because of global warming.

    Global warming predicts that weird things will happen. So when anything weird happens, that provides more evidence for global warming.

  28. Deflation and crime:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/019512121X/associatizer-20/

    “We’ve know that since the great depression”

    Exactly. Crime rates plummeted during the great depression DESPITE the proliferation and abundance of unemployed youths. Keep in mind that the great depression was a tremendously deflationary event.

  29. Jeez couldn’t you guys just google “inflation correlates with crime”?

    You get more studies showing that phenomenon, and in the primary literature, too.

  30. A commenter on the original article stated there was probably a connection between abortions from the early 1990s and a drop in crime today.

    More abortion = less crime so those numbers are worth looking into.

  31. I don’t put too much stock into sociology theories, but I’ll throw this one into the fray just for fun. The authors of “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069” proposed one theory. They found that the American crime rate since 1950 corelates strongly with the number of young adults belonging to the Baby Boomer generation.

  32. jtuf:

    population growth is, arguably, an inflationary phenomenon.

  33. The answer is, everyone who has the potential to do harm is already incarcerated..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisons_in_the_United_States

  34. The answer is, everyone who has the potential to do harm is already incarcerated..

    I think it’s everyone who has the inclination. I certainly have the potential and the training, but that might require getting up off my ass.

  35. “”””Zeb writes

    DJF, I am sure you are right about crime statistics in general, but the murder numbers are pretty hard to fudge without getting caught.””””

    Don’t be too sure about that. There was a story a few years ago in NYC where a reporter was on a subway train and there was a murder in the car ahead of him. However when he checked up on the murder he found that the cops were not reporting anyone dead even though he saw the body taken away. There was also another story a few weeks ago where Detroit was admitting that it was off on its murder static’s by at least 22 for the year

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20090618/METRO/906180406/1409/METRO

  36. There was also another story a few weeks ago where Detroit was admitting that it was off on its murder static’s by at least 22 for the year

    Hanlon’s razor. When it comes to Detroit city government, always take incompetent as your first choice, corrupt second, and actual malice as a distant 3rd.

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