Gangs, drugs, easy access to guns, and a tendency among young people to pull guns to demand respect are among the causes cited by experts in trying to explain this year’s increase in murders in many big cities after years of decline, reports the Associated Press. Some places, including Los Angeles, reported murder declines. New York had 579 homicides through Dec. 24 – a nearly 10 percent increase. The spike reflects an unusually large number of “reclassified homicides,” or those involving victims who were shot or stabbed years ago but did not die until this year. Thirty-five such deaths have been added to this year’s toll, compared with an annual average of about a dozen.
In New Haven, Ct., where murders are up 50 percent, police chief Francisco Ortiz said young people are “struggling with this thing about respect and pride. It’s about respect. It’s about revenge. It’s about having a reputation. It’s about turf, and it’s about girls.” Criminologist Andrew Karmen of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, noted that police departments tend to take credit when the murder toll goes down. “When crime goes up, it will be interesting to see whether they will accept responsibility,” he said.