Preliminary date for last year put the U.S. on track for its lowest murder rate in nearly 40 years, writes David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the Huffington Post. There’s an important point the year-end media round-ups are missing, says Kennedy: “there is a method to the growing lack of madness in America’s cities.” Most of the cities making headlines, including Chicago, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Philadelphia, New York City, and Oakland, are using the same basic method to stop the killing. There is something that can be done about the urban homicide that has plagued the nation for generations, these cities are doing it, and it is working, Kennedy says.
Kennedy cites the evidence that serious violence and much other crime are concentrated among remarkably small numbers of “hot” people and places. Their communities aren’t dangerous; they are. He credits a process he has advocated of identifying group members with extensive criminal histories and engaging them in meetings — “call-ins” — to demand an end to violence, explain the legal risks they face, and offer them help. Kennedy says the list of cities using this approach is growing: Detroit, Denver, and Kansas City have begun to use them; Baltimore will launch this year; the state of Connecticut is supporting them in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford; smaller cities like Peoria, Chattanooga, and South Bend have begun or are beginning.