Monday, January 11, 2010

Crime Rates

The struggle by many in the criminal justice field to explain crime rates dropping, indicates more a predisposed ideological perspective than a lack of facts.

This article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune underscores that it is primarily the result of broken-windows policing (first used in New York City in the 1980's) which focuses efforts on all levels of crime and on crime ridden areas, which we’ve posted on before.

When it is coupled with three-strikes sentencing, the crime rate results are dramatic, as has been in evidence.

An excerpt.

“Altogether, the waning violence and mayhem are part of a positive 20-year trend. Since the early- to mid-'90s, murders have declined by a remarkable four-fifths in New York and Minneapolis, and by two-thirds in Los Angeles.

"It is a different world," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times. "There was a time when it was the opposite of today -- when it seemed there was no limit on the potential for things to get worse and worse. The whole outlook has shifted now."

“The intriguing question is why. Criminology rivals economics as a dismal science, with experts constantly struggling to explain ups and downs. That crime should rise along with unemployment and desperation seemed a logical expectation -- but apparently not….

“Our view is that smarter, more proactive police tactics have contributed most to crime's decline. Reforms begun in New York in the 1980s are now routine nationwide. Officers stop known criminals for minor offenses, and guns are often confiscated. Computerized maps predict crime hot spots, and officers are dispatched to flood those zones. Gunfire detectors and cameras help patrol high-crime areas. Closer police-community partnerships have been forged in many cities. Police administrators are held accountable for lower crime numbers.

"Where police chiefs might have been perfectly willing to say, 'It's the economy or something else and there's nothing we can do about it,' their bosses -- mayors and city councils -- now know they can and should expect reductions in crime," Rutgers University criminologist George Kelling [a co-founder of the broken windows theory first proposed in 1982, link to Atlantic Monthly article which began it, is in our linked post above] told the Los Angeles Times. "There is now a pressure of, 'If you can't get the job done, we'll find someone who can.' ''