Throughout 2020, data analysts tracked a disturbing rise in murders, and a sharp decrease in crime. How does this happen? Let’s take a look.
The rise in murders, shootings and other violent crimes escalated through 2020 and has continued on into 2021. According to the data, murders increased by nearly 15% compared to 2019, but the cause is a mystery.
Experts in the field attribute spikes in criminal activity to things like increased temperatures or economic downturns. Since 2020, there have been innumerable possible causes of this crime spike. The pandemic continues to rage on, the economy is in recession, climate change is reaching a boiling point, and social unrest continues to grow.
The strange part is that while murders are increasing rapidly, other crimes are not. Theft and burglary, in particular, have low numbers this year, and it could be because businesses were closed and states were under lockdown for much of 2020.
Whether people are pushed to violence because of economic despair or political rage, officials and lawmakers are rightfully concerned about this pattern of violence. Fluctuations in violent crime are normal, but an increase of more than 10% is alarming.
Violence Isn’t Limited to Large Cities
While crime rates are usually higher in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, early data from a study backed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the University of Pennsylvania shows that these increases are happening everywhere.
Every region is experiencing historic amounts of murders from the Northeast to the West Coast. Because these trends affect every corner of the country, officials and lawmakers are divided on how to address this problem.
Whether it’s political differences or other communication deficits, solving this problem won’t be easy. However, some tried and true methods are being brought to the table, but despite the nationwide protests against police brutality, many lawmakers are hoping to increase the number of armed officers within their community.
Will More Police Fix the Problem?
It’s also important to note that tactics like stop-and-frisk or arrests for misdemeanors and other low-level offenses do nothing to improve public safety. Patrolling high-crime areas and strategically investigating complex cases does more for public safety than any other strategy.
That said, increased police presence can help, but it’s the type of policing that matters. Herman Goldstein developed a method called problem-oriented policing or POP that addresses a wide variety of pain points without increasing the number of armed officers.
POP Not SWAT
Essentially, POP is a method of analyzing and investigating chronic problems instead of using excessive force to sweep up minor infractions. Problem-oriented policing has a set of steps that need to be followed to develop a response that addresses the big picture. This is done by following SARA: scanning, analysis, response, assessment.
Officers observe the issue within their community, perform analysis to better understand the pain points, develop a response to address those issues directly, and assess results to improve their response in the future.
Studies show that POP is a very effective strategy for crime reduction and reduces crime rates by over 33%. This methodology is used in precincts across the country, but there is little continuity in how law enforcement applies POP to investigations.
A standardized problem-oriented policing strategy would go a long way to improve public safety and possibly recover public trust.
Increased police presence may help reduce violent crime in some cases, but the innumerable examples of police brutality show that not all officers are willing to protect and serve ethically. As violent crime rates continue to climb, leaders and politicians will continue to feel pressure to offer a solution that remedies the problem without inciting the public.
It’s unclear how leaders will attempt to fix this issue, but there are well-researched and proven policing methods that could provide the results needed to bring down the crime rate to a manageable level.
The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman will continue to stay updated on this issue.