As Crime Rises In Some Areas, So Does Public Concern


Perhaps the most pointed reference to crime by a prominent political candidate of late was made by a self-proclaimed noncandidate, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says the New York Times. He argued that Americans have a much greater chance of being killed by crime than by a terror attack, but complained that the announced candidates, “all beat their chests and say, 'I can protect this country better from terrorism.' Well, what about protecting them out in the streets every day?” While reported crime is at the lowest levels in 40 years nationally, homicide totals are rising or its decline has been slowing in several cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Hartford, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Seattle. In Newark, the wanton murders of three young people have galvanized a besieged city plagued by gang violence.

“There is a lag between the reality of crime and the perceptions of crime,” said Eli Silverman, a retired professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “My gut feeling is that if one took polls of residents in these selected areas – for example, Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia – one would find much higher concerns about crime than nationally since their crime rates have increased above the national average. It's very uneven. It's very dramatic but not widespread.” Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center said that the proportion of people saying that reducing crime should be a high priority had rebounded last year, after dropping significantly earlier in this decade in a reflection of sharp declines in overall victimization rates in the 1990's.


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