Will Pandemic and Recession Bring ‘Deadly’ Summer of Crime?

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When asked why crime is increasing in so many cities, Chris Herrmann of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said, “Everyone has been cooped up in a lot of these cities for a long time.” Herrmann added, “A lot of them are looking to settle scores for the last 12 or 14 weeks.” Homicides actually decreased in April and May, compared to the three-year average, as more people stayed home due to coronavirus shutdowns. Overall crime rates are still down but summer always sees an escalation in homicides, reports Governing. “You’re more likely to see violence occur in summertime, but on top of that, we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” says Emily Mooney of the conservative R Street Institute. “Mental health isn’t exactly thriving for the last couple of months for many individuals.”

On top of the pandemic and recession are the most widespread protests in decades over policing after the killing of George Floyd. That has exacerbated problems of distrust surrounding law enforcement. Kalfani Ture, a criminal justice professor at Quinnipiac University, says, “The summer of 2020 is going to be marked as one of the deadliest years, not only because of COVID-19, but gun violence.” In addition, “you have an almost unbroken narrative from the mainstream media that proactive policing is racist,” says Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute. “The sense that officers have, that law enforcement is not supported in the culture, is even greater.” She sees a repeat of the “Ferguson effect,” with police pulling back as they face criticism and the increased risk of criminal charges.  “The community, or certain communities, are drawing further from the police as a result of anger, frustration and fear,” says University of Missouri St. Louis criminologist Richard Rosenfeld. “They’re less likely to call police and more likely to take disputes into their own hands.”

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