The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: Homicide Stats Show "Minneapolis Effect"

My op-ed summarizes my new research paper, which explains how a decline in proactive policing following anti-police protests is producing the startling rise in homicides around the country.


This morning the Wall Journal Journal published my op-ed on the subject of the nation's homicide spikes. There I summarize my new research study, which explains how a "Minneapolis Effect" of reduced policing in the wake of anti-police protests best explains the terrible surge in gun violence. Here are the op-ed's first several paragraphs:

Cities across the country suffered dramatic increases in homicides this summer. The spikes were remarkable, suddenly appearing and widespread, although often concentrated in disadvantaged neighborhoods. This year is on track to be the deadliest year for gun-related homicides since at least 1999.

The homicide spikes began in late May. Before May 28, Chicago had almost the same number of homicides as in 2019. Then, on May 31, 18 people were murdered in Chicago—the city's most violent day in six decades. Violence continued through the summer. July was Chicago's most violent month in 28 years. As of Sept. 1, murder is up 52% for the year, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Chicago's shooting spike reflects what is happening in many major cities across the country. Researchers have identified a "structural break" in homicide numbers, beginning in the last week of May. Trends for most other major crime categories have remained generally stable or moved slightly downward.

My much longer research paper will appear in a forthcoming issue of The Federal Sentencing Reporter.  That paper explains the basis for estimating that the Minneapolis Effect has led to about 710 more homicides and 2,800 more shootings in June and July alone, with the victims heavily concentrated in disadvantaged communities. The paper provides supporting examples from five cities–Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and New York City–which all have suffered a Minneapolis Effect.  The policy conclusion of my longer article: The best way for the nation to deter shootings and homicides is to restore proactive policing to its previous levels before the anti-police protests.