Per the US Department of Justice, violent crime increased 28 percent since 2015. Serious violent crime is also increasing. This is happening while arrests are declining.
As I write this, the crisis of confidence within American law enforcement is considerable. But with increasing violence in a wide variety of cities, we may have more on our hands than protests and a reexamination of police tactics.
There are a number of national articles about people leaving cities. “Over the past few weeks, as protesters have been met with tear gas and rubber bullets in cities across the country, some who had predicted an exodus grew more resolute.” Even The New York Times asked if New York City was still worth it, grew more resolute
This is an ongoing series of articles to understand society’s reaction to the death of Floyd George and to seek solutions.
I was asked by a reader about the “exploding” number of arrests in the United States, especially as they apply to African Americans. When I stated that arrests decreased considerably, she asked me to prove it. What’s below is my answer to her request.
Arrests have declined for all demographics. Declining arrests may have more to do with police officers pulling back or cops being less aggressive due to massive negative publicity (some of it deserved), community pushback, and fear that productivity may cost them their jobs and reputations.
America in the spring and summer of 2020 is dealing with a crisis of confidence in law enforcement as the country grapples with an array of police shootings as well as considerable economic, political, and social upheaval during the Coronavirus epidemic and economic recession.
As a result, the justice system and the larger community are reexamining police and criminal justice practices, Crime in America.
As to arrests:
Juvenile Arrests Fall To Their Lowest Number Since 1980
In 2018, U.S. law enforcement agencies made an estimated 728,280 arrests of people younger than 18. This was the lowest number since at least 1980—and 73 percent below its 1996 peak of 2.7 million.
Source: Office Of Justice Programs.
Chart-Decline in Juvenile Arrests
National Arrests Decline By 22 Percent-FBI
Total arrests in the United States are down 21.9 percent from 2009 to 2018.
US Arrests Decline By 25 Percent
Vera created a tool that analyzes arrest trends between 1980 and 2016. The data shows that overall arrests have declined by nearly 25 percent over the last decade.
Source: The Intercept.
Police Initiated Contacts Fall By 9 Million-Two Percent Involve Force Or Threat Of Force
The portion of U.S. residents age 16 or older who had experienced contact with the police in the preceding 12 months declined from 26 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced.
The number of residents who had experienced contact with police dropped by more than 9 million people, from 62.9 million to 53.5 million during the period.
From 2011 to 2015, the number of persons who had contact that was police-initiated fell by 8 million, and the number of persons who initiated contact with police fell by 6 million.
Among those who had contact with police, two percent experienced a nonfatal threat or use of force by police.
Source: Police Contacts
Lower Level Arrests Declining
The Wall Street Journal offered, “Arrests for Low-Level Crimes Are Plummeting, and the Experts Are Flummoxed.” Key points are summarized below.
From MSN News: (direct quotes-rearranged)
New statistical studies show a deep, yearslong decline in misdemeanor cases across New York and California and in cities throughout other regions, with arrests of young black men falling dramatically.
New York City’s misdemeanor arrest totals have fallen by half since peaking in 2010, with rates of black arrests sinking to their lowest point since 1990. The arrest rate for black men in St. Louis fell by 80% from 2005 to 2017, a period that saw steep declines in simple assault and drug-related offenses. In Durham, N.C., arrest rates for blacks fell by nearly 50% between 2006 and 2016.
Other studies revealed similar patterns. A December report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that misdemeanor rates in California declined by close to 60% between 1989 and 2016.
Los Angeles police made 112,570 misdemeanor arrests in 2008 and 60,063 by 2017, largely driven by declines in driving and alcohol-related offenses, according to John Jay’s research network.
A forthcoming paper by law professors at George Mason University and the University of Georgia also found sizable arrest declines in rural Virginia, San Antonio and other jurisdictions.
Other indications include shrinking caseloads reported by the National Center for State Courts and arrest tallies by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showing steady declines in disorderly conduct, drunkenness, prostitution and loitering violations.
In Durham, the arrest rate for 18- to 20-year-old black men dropped by more than 70% from 2008 to 2016, according to the John Jay’s research collaborative.
The only other source providing longitudinal (multi-year) arrest data regarding African Americans is the juvenile justice report at the top of this article where black arrests are 87 percent below their peak.
But African American arrests remain disproportionately high (above their percentage of the population) for the juvenile justice (multi-year) numbers and FBI data (2018).
Violent Crime Increased 28 Percent
There are those insisting that we have never lived in safer times due to an almost continuous (and considerable) twenty-year plus decline in crime, but that argument is getting stale since the increases in violence began in 2015 per one or more of the three national reports.
If you read the daily newspaper accounts on this site and others, you get a sense that there is a growing concern regarding violence in America.
Per the FBI (crimes reported to police) national violent crime was flat or decreased slightly for the last 2.5 years.
Per the National Crime Survey, violent numbers have increased by twenty-eight percent from 2015 to 2018. Serious violent crime also increased.
Per Gallup, violent crime tripled, household crime for 2018 increased. 24% of households were victimized by violent or property crimes (excluding cybercrimes) in 2018, up from the 22% who said the same last year. Beyond the 24 percent of households victimized by violent and property crimes, 23% of U.S. households were victimized by cybercrime in 2018.
The bottom line? Overall violent crime seems to be increasing since 2015. The only good news is FBI data (based on reported crime) indicating small decreases in reported crime for 2017 (violence essentially flat) and in 2018 and the first half of 2019.
But the Major Cities Chiefs Association documented a rise in reported homicides and aggravated assaults for 2019, partially contradicting FBI findings,
Source: Crime in The US.
There is considerable data indicating that police officers are making fewer arrests and public contacts while violent crime is increasing. There are major cities where violence is exploding.
Concurrently, there are surveys indicating that cops are reluctant to be proactive or aggressive as to stops. Data from the US Department of Justice indicates that proactive policing reduces crime, Police Strategies.
Beyond the headlines, a majority of fragile-community residents (54%) say they would like the police to spend more time in their community, while just 5% say they would like the police to spend less time there, High Crime Residents.
Violent crime increased by 28 percent per the National Crime Survey. Documented increases also include Gallup and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Note that several of the indexes included in this article include years before 2015 when violent crime was declining so a reduction in arrests during this period is understandable. Property crime reductions continue.
As I write this, the crisis of confidence within American law enforcement is considerable. But with increasing violence in a wide variety of cities and the country, we may have more on our hands than protests and a reexamination of police-community relations.
Violence destroys cities. Every city with a violence problem hemorrhages jobs, tourists, economic development, residents, and public confidence.
There are a number of national articles about people leaving cities. “Over the past few weeks, as protesters have been met with tear gas and rubber bullets in cities across the country, some who had predicted an exodus grew more resolute.” Even The New York Times asked if New York City was still worth it,” The Atlantic.
But based on multi-year data, charges that American law enforcement is increasing arrests for any demographic are unfounded.
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.
US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.
National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.
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Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.
Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Aspiring drummer.
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My book based on thirty-five years of criminal justice public relations,” Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization” available at Amazon
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