As temperatures flare during this week’s sweltering weather, police expect tempers to follow. Detectives say it’s no coincidence that people have become more violent in the stifling heat, says the Columbus Dispatch. “Tempers get short. It just seems like one follows the other,” said Det. Jay Fulton. Yet once the reading reaches a certain level – about 90 degrees – violent-crime rates drop. “When it gets to the point of being unbearable, people don’t fight, they withdraw,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University who has studied the relationship between crime and temperature in Columbus.
Fox said he won’t be surprised if violent crime increases this weekend, when temperatures are predicted to decrease slightly. Using data from 2007, Fox found that violent crime was most common in the mid- and upper 80s and that it was least common in cool weather. His findings are backed by laboratory experiments showing that physiological changes make people more aggressive in high temperatures, he said. Despite a rash of aggravated assaults in Columbus this week, local researchers say that the worst crime season is over. The nonprofit Community Research Partners found that overall crime in Columbus is highest in the spring and dwindles in the late-summer months. Fox’s study found that violent crime peaked in May but remained high throughout the summer.