Trump's Phony Crime Crisis

FBI numbers refute his portrait of a nation besieged by violent thugs.


Donald Trump, who is modeling himself after Richard Nixon, used the phrase "law and order" seven times during his debate with Hillary Clinton on Monday night. He said blacks and Latinos in America's inner cities "are living in hell because it's so dangerous" and that "some really bad things" are happening in "so many different places."

FBI numbers released the day of the debate refute Trump's portrait of a nation besieged by violent criminals. While murders did rise by 11 percent in 2015, that increase was driven mainly by a small number of cities, and the violent crime rate is still much lower than it was in the early 1990s—lower, in fact, than in all but two years since 1971.

The homicide rate in 2015 was 4.9 per 100,000, half the rate in 1991. The violent crime rate was 372.6 per 100,000 last year, up 3.1 percent from 2014 but still half the 1991 rate. The property crime rate, which fell 3.4 percent last year, was twice as high in 1991.

Of the country's 100 largest cities, 25 saw significant increases in homicides last year, and just seven of them—Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, and Washington, D.C.—accounted for half of the national increase. It's not clear whether violence will continue to rise in those cities, let alone whether it signals a broader trend. Homicides are down so far this year in Baltimore and Washington, for instance, after rising in 2015.

While the jump in the murder rate should not be lightly dismissed, it hardly shows that the nation is experiencing "a moment of crisis" caused by "violence in our streets" and "chaos in our communities," as Trump claimed at the Republican National Convention in July, or that "crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse," as he declared on Twitter around the same time. Judging from the FBI's statistics, crime is less "out of control" than it has been in all but a handful of years during the last half-century.

Nor does Trump's favored solution, "stop and frisk," make sense even in the cities where violence is on the rise. Promiscuous use of that tactic, which involves detaining and patting down pedestrians who strike police as suspicious, causes understandable resentment among the young black and Latino men who bear the brunt of it, and there's little evidence that it curtails violent crime.

Trump credited the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk program with reducing the number of homicides in that city from 2,245 in 1990 to 540 in 2005. Yet homicides continued to fall even after the program was sharply curtailed in 2012, and they are down again so far this year after rising in 2015. Meanwhile, the annual number of stops has fallen by 97 percent from the 2011 peak of more than 685,000.

Trump does not seem to care about the reason stop-and-frisk encounters fell so dramatically in New York. They were challenged on constitutional grounds, and a federal judge ultimately concluded that police were routinely violating the Fourth Amendment by stopping and frisking people without reasonable suspicion.

Trump nevertheless thinks a similar program would do wonders in violence-plagued Chicago, apparently not realizing police there already tried that. In 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois reports, "Chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as New Yorkers at the height of New York City's stop and frisk practice."

As in New York, stops in Chicago overwhelmingly targeted blacks and often lacked a constitutional basis. Stops in Chicago are down sharply this year in response to criticism and new legislation, but that happened after the city's 2015 increase in homicides.

Even if the local police tactics Trump advocates were constitutional and effective, he would have no power as president to implement them. When he promises that "safety will be restored" once he takes office, he offers false assurances about a nonexistent crisis.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Selective statistics. Violent crime is up in New York, so ignore that and look at homicide rate which is down slightly. Hey, kids. The homocide rate in Baltimore is down somewhat from last year (ignore that it had jumped double digits)..

    Stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional because more blacks got stopped says a leftist judge. Correlation implies causation to the left. More blacks are wandering the streets when crime occurs and you need stop and frisk.

    And violent crime is up pretty much everywhere. But hey, it’s less than the peak of crack cocaine epidemic. Doesn’t that give you warm, fuzzy feelings?

    1. Stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional because more blacks got stopped says a leftist judge.

      It’s unconstitutional because cops deciding to search people for little to no valid reason violates the fourth amendment. Even if stop-and-frisk decreased crime (which I find highly unlikely), that would not make it constitutional or ethical.

      1. Listen, what’s not libertarian about a cop demanding citizens at random, stop, empty their pockets, show their papers? My that’s the most libertarian vision of a society ever.

      2. Stop and frisk was to enforce New York’s gun laws. It’s odd how banning guns is apparently not violating the 2nd amendment, but enforcing it violates the 4th.

        1. People like that pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they want the government to follow, and to them, the ends justify the means. They want the government to do X, so therefore they think that X must be constitutional and create an illogical last-minute justification for why they think that is so.

          Both New York’s gun laws and stop-and-frisk are unconstitutional.

        2. Thry don’t even care about the 4th Amendment violations itself. They care about whose rights are violated. Thry only care because it’s urban minorities. If it was white Upstate people like me they’d cheer it on.

      3. Well, you are wrong. The ruling that it was unconstitutional was because not because it was a violation of the 4th amendment but that it was “indirect racial profiling”.

        “Both statistical and anecdotal evidence showed that minorities are indeed treated differently than whites,” the judge said

        Bogus Obama DoJ statistics just like the above bogus statistics that deny realities like the fact that blacks commit far more crime than whites.

        1. The ruling that it was unconstitutional was because not because it was a violation of the 4th amendment

          But that is why it’s unconstitutional, which was my point. It’s a shame that the judge decided to focus on race and left open the possibility that it could return if the supposed racial bias issue was fixed.

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    4. The population of America has increased a heck of a lot since I was young so even if the percentages are lower somewhat there are still more criminals because of the sheer number of people. Thus cities are dangerous more now.

  2. Citing average national statistics, while ignoring the highly localized increase in crime is just immature posturing to defend your own opinions. Come one Jacob, you can do better than this.

    The reason ‘fighting crime’ is resonating with voters is because there has be a very real increase in crime in specific localities. With national news of the absurd violence in Chicago and Baltimore among other cities, people feel like its right next door even though it is very isolated to specific areas.
    It is readily apparent that crime is increasing rapidly in specific hot-zones.
    It is readily apparent that law enforcement is ‘pulling back’ from enforcement of these hot-zones because of the intense racial animosity and media/political fanning of the flames.
    This increase in crime is cascading out ward from the hot-zones into other traditionally safe areas. Chicago is the prime example of this.
    There is a broad sense among whites that certain urban areas must be avoided to remain safe from random attacks. Are you going to claim the “knock out game” is just made up. It’s a weekly thing in Philly.

    We haven’t seen this things since the 80s. Is this a blip on the start of a bad trend?
    People are concerned and rightly so. Telling them the statistics while ignoring reality is just childish.

    1. Of the country’s 100 largest cities, 25 saw significant increases in homicides last year, and just seven of them?Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, and Washington, D.C.?accounted for half of the national increase. It’s not clear whether violence will continue to rise in those cities, let alone whether it signals a broader trend. Homicides are down so far this year in Baltimore and Washington, for instance, after rising in 2015.

      Do people not read articles before criticizing them for “ignoring” somethinf? (This is a rhetorical question.)

      1. Its that he said this and then ignored its effects on people’s perceptions.

        Check out how these crime “blips” occurred. Are the conditions that led to them likely to be repeated?

        It is disingenuous to discount crime in big cities, especially when 80% of americans live in urban areas.

        But no…isolated rising crime doesn’t affect everyone…

      2. Do you not bother to read the comments before making your own?

      3. Well then perhaps Bailey should talk to the person who characterized Trumps “portrait of a nation besieged by violent thugs.” Particularly since he quoted Trump noting that it was largely a problem of inner cities and happening “in so many different places.”

        Far too many people are hearing only what they want to hear, and Bailey is no better.

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  4. People look at the ‘protests’ associated with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and unconciously process them as violent crimes. They look like the cities are sinking into barbarism. This, of course, is all part of the Progressive Left’s strategy; increase the number of petty laws, shild the bad cops from consequences, and tell the poor they are oppressed and that you are their only hope, thereby gathering both groups to your banner. Dispicable, and probably not entirely concious, but a tested pattern.

    Trump’s selling ‘Lawr n Owada’ may well be the only want,to combat this, in an election year. It’s all about emotions, not facts. Does he have the sense and the guts to do what would stop the rot? End the Drug War, end property seizure, break the contracts that protect bad cops? Probably not. But he doesn’t have another strategy THAT WOULD WORK in the election.

    1. “They look like the cities are sinking into barbarism”

      wrong tense.

      Sections of these cities have already sunk into barbarism. There are rapidly becoming no-go zones at night and the barbarism is spilling outward into the surrounds. sections of Baltimore are on par with third-world hellholes and the same is seen in a number of large cities.
      The ‘protests’, or rather looting parties, make for good news ratings, so we get to see the barbarism in all its shirtless glory.

      1. It is always a good idea to check against “It has never been worse” thinking. In the “Gangs of New York” era, there was a block of Hell’s Kitchen that averaged a murder a night for a whole year. There really were areas of New York and London the police didn’t enter. It isn’t that bad now. Yet. The mobs of Black Lives Mutter (i misspelled it, but I like it) are not yet to the level of the Irish gangs of the late 19th century.

        1. I think we kind of expect that when we find something that works, we keep doing it. When we stop and crime goes up, even if not as bad as before, we wonder why we stopped or claim it wasn’t working.

          There is an expectation things should keep getting better… not start getting worse.

      2. Large cities have always been pits of barbarism and vice. They stand out so much for two reasons, first, the rest of the nation has gotten somewhat better, and two, it suits the narrative.

    2. ” Dispicable, and probably not entirely concious, but a tested pattern.”

      Divide and conquer is a well tested pattern. What’s surprising is how eager Americans seem willing to fall for it.

  5. OT:

    Just had a thought on how to gut the idiot “no fly” lists, put a brake on the attempts to strip 2nd Amendment Rights, and maybe some other irritants.

    Establish in law – maybe by legislation – that anyone who has any of the rights of citizenship necessarily has all of then. That way, the Left has to face that if they insist on Felons having the right to vote, they also have the right to keep and brea arms. Done right, it could seriously raise the bar for depriving people of rights that the Elites don’t like.

    I’ve not thought it through very far. Anyone want to chime it?

    1. There is no right to vote in the Constitution but denying all but actual prisoners the opportunity to vote in a Democracy, seems incompatible with having a Democratic Republic.

      The 2nd Amendment says nothing about felons out of jail not having the same gun rights as non-felons. In other words, denying gun rights of anyone besides actual prisoners is prohibited by that Amendment.

      1. IANAL, but; it is my impression that the right to vote AND the process whereby a convicted felon was deprived of that right was already well established in the English Common Law tradition.

        1. The point of the Revolution was to provide enduring opportunities to refute the presumption of english common law.

          1. That is beyond wrong. Everything that the Founders valued was rooted in, or derived from the common law.

            We didn’t revolt in order to eliminate the English Bill of Rights. We revolted to ensure that the people in the colonies were afforded exactly the sorts of protections entailed in that document.

      2. ” In other words, denying gun rights of anyone besides actual prisoners is prohibited by that Amendment.”

        There’s nothing unconstitutional about denying convicted felons the right to possess a firearm after they have completed their prison sentence.

        The 5th Amendment requires that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Due Process is itself spelled out in the 6th Amendment.

        For those convicted by due process, the specific terms of deprivation of liberty … whether it’s the freedom to go where one pleasse, or the right to keep and bear arms… are established by legislation.

        There’s absolutely nothing unconstitutional about a felony conviction resulting in a finite term in prison and a lifelong loss of gun ownership rights (or voting rights).

        1. There’s nothing unconstitutional about denying convicted felons the right to possess a firearm after they have completed their prison sentence.

          Nothing… except, you know, the Fifth Amendment.

          Due Process is itself spelled out in the 6th Amendment.

          Only an utter fucking moron thinks that the Sixth Amendment defines the outer limits of the due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment defines a few procedural safeguards applicable to criminal trials; like the rest of the Bill of Rights it’s not an exclusive list.

          1. Seeing as how the Fifth clearly contemplates capital punishment then it logically follows that any and all other rights might be deprived with due process.

            The problem is not so much that felons lose the franchise as it is that there are too damn many things that are felonies.

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  7. Trump’s Phony Crime Crisis
    FBI numbers refute his portrait of a nation besieged by violent thugs.

    How come the FBI doesn’t report Trump the Grump running for president?
    That’s a crime in of itself.

  8. “FBI numbers refute his portrait of a nation besieged by violent thugs.”

    Seeing as the government is essentially composed of violent thugs, I’d say that portrait is still accurate.

  9. FBI Changes Anti-Terrorism Site Because It Offended Muslims

    Instead of listing CAIR, or the Muslim Brotherhood, as extremist groups (or even terrorist organizations), the FBI lists these groups to watch out for instead:

    pro-life supporters
    sovereign citizens & constitutionalists,
    white supremacists,
    militia members,
    animal rights activists,
    and environmentalists (does this include Loretta Lynch and the Pentagon?).…..americans/

  10. Every illegal alien represents the theft of the identity of an American citizen but Reason doesn’t care about crimes against citizens.

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  12. It doesn’t matter what the statistics are.

    The Constitution doesn’t provide for exception based on GDP or whatever’s trending.

    The problem with rational discourse is confirmation bias:
    * People look for anecdotes that supports their narratives.
    * Local conditions matter: a conservative is a liberal who was once mugged.

  13. Calling it a phony crime crisis is disingenuous. Sullim knows better. In fact, we have had serious localized increases in violence and a number of anomalous incidents — major riots in multiple cities, several serious jihadi attacks.

    It’s like saying “You only have a few tiny melanomas. Statistically your skin is 99.9% cancer free!”

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