Why do the president and his new attorney general keep repeating statements about crime that are plainly false? They want to make the country feel less safe so Trump can sell some of his policies, such as the border wall and Muslim ban, according to one crime expert.
President Trump yesterday ordered an evaluation of the “availability and adequacy of crime-related data,” and ways to improve data collection that “will aid in the understanding of crime trends and in the reduction of crime.” Better data would be a welcome development, says crime statistics analyst Jeff Asher.
Mayor Jim Kenney called President Trump a purveyor of “fake facts” when Trump said murders in Philadelphia were “terribly increasing.” In fact, the city had 277 homicides last year compared with 280 the year before, and the total used to be much higher. The President also falsely stated that two people were murdered while then-President Obama gave his farewell speech in Chicago.
FBI report says violent crimes reported to local police rose in the first half of last year in every category of violent crime. Violent incidents are up the most in cities with populations of more than 1 million. Property crime dropped slightly but motor vehicle thefts rose 6.6 percent.
Through Christmas, overall crime in New Jersey’s largest city was down 13 percent from last year. Burglary and robbery each declined by nearly a quarter. Murder declined 10 percent, from 103 to 93. Only aggravated assault increased, by 10 percent. Three years ago, Newark had the third-highest murder rate in the nation.
National data on hate crime is scarce because the FBI’s counting is flawed. Incidents of hate crime have declined from 200 on the day after the presidential election to fewer than 10 per day in early December, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. But the center says they will persist if the Trump administration “continues to demonize certain populations.”
Amid the city’s homicide spike in 2016, the number of arrests in the city has fallen by 28 percent versus last year. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson suggests the decline is related to policing strategies. “We want to arrest the right people at the right times for the right reasons,” he says. “We cannot arrest our way out of this.”
Are citywide statistics on homicide and other forms of violence pertinent? Scholars suggest that the conversation about national and metro crime rates ignores a crucial metric: the lived experience of urban violence, where crime can vary greatly from one neighborhood to the next.
But there were also declines in 12 cities, prompting NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice to conclude that concerns about a national crime wave are still “premature.” Nevertheless, the Center added, “These trends suggest a need to understand” why some big cities are suffering increases in the murder rate–and not others.