Boston officials should “take a calmer approach to short-term fluctuations in crime figures, especially when they are based on a narrow time span,” criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeatern University writes for the Boston Globe. trying to make a trend out of nine homicides this month compared with very few over the past couple of Januaries can be rather misleading, he says. Although the spike is unacceptable in terms of the pain and suffering it brings to many families, in all likelihood better days are ahead, no matter what the city's strategic or programmatic response to the recent killings.
Last June, the Globe noted a disturbing surge in gun deaths in Boston. As of June 11, there had been 17 gun homicides during the year, compared to only 12 at the same juncture in the previous year. That's nearly a 50 percent jump. Then the year ended with 40, making 2013 one of the lowest tallies in recent decades. News coverage in Boston and elsewhere often uses a “Chicken Little” approach: a sudden uptick in crime is assumed to signal a trend, but subsequently turns out to be more an aberration, Fox says.