Crime Spike Question: Do Police Reforms Encourage More Violence?


A spike in crime in several cities is giving momentum to the argument that more-liberal ideals of policing and law and order are leading to less-safe cities, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The intense scrutiny of police departments after events in Ferguson, Mo.; New York City; Baltimore; North Charleston, S.C., and elsewhere, where black men died in confrontations with police, has begun to rein in police behavior, and the result has been higher crime, some law enforcement officials say. Historic drops in crime came from aggressive policing, they add. Criminologists are wary of jumping to such conclusions. Crime statistics often fluctuate, and it is too soon to draw any larger conclusions.

Whatever the reasons for the spikes, they could affect efforts to address the frayed relationship between police departments and minority communities nationwide. Baltimore had 42 murders in May, the highest monthly total since 1972. Homicides in Milwaukee spiked 180 percent from May last year. In New York, homicides are up 20 percent this year, and the number of shootings has jumped two years in a row for the first time in 15 years. “Beyond the political and electoral repercussions for [New York City Mayor Bill] de Blasio, the key question both in NYC and beyond is the impact this has on progressive efforts to reform policing and police-community relations,” says Jeanne Zaino, a political scientist at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.

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