Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crime falls in many of nation's largest urban cities

Crime has been a defining struggle of urbanization in America. As such, it has claimed the lives of thousands and the expense of billions of dollars. It is on everyone's mind. How to prevent it, how to get away from it, how to survive it, and how to get away with it. There are those of us that believe it will always be around, and those of us that believe it is caused solely by economic inequality. Crime rates fell in urban cities every year since 1993, throughout the Clinton years, and America celebrated the lowest crime rates in a generation.

However, according to the LA Times in 2001, crime surged in urban cities. Number of homicides that LAPD reported went from 479, to 520. In Chicago, the number went from 567 to 598. In Phoenix it surged from 172 to 220. One city that bucked the trend, however, was New York, where excluding the dead from 9/11, NYPD reported 559 homicides, down from 620. A criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University reported, "There doesn't seem to be a clear trend anymore."

The breakdown of a clear national trend among urban cities begs the question, what was Rudy Giuliani doing that successfully cracked down on crime in New York, that those in LA and Chicago weren't? Plus, the fact that crime has fallen dramatically in New York is a bigger deal because more people live there (8,274,527) than in LA, Chicago, and Phoenix combined (8,238,296) although the loosing trend does include many more cities than just those 3.

In 1991 the national homicide rate was 9.8 murders per 100,000 people; in 2000, when the Bush administration took over, it was down to 5.7 per 100,000, bringing it down to levels seen back "in the good old days" of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, violent crime rates have fallen consistently every year since 1993, when there were a total of 4,190,000 violent crimes. In 2005 there were a total of 1,823,400 violent crimes, which shows dramatic improvement over a 12-year span. The trend has continued to today, with the exception of a brief uptick between 05-06.

Indeed, overall when it comes to crime, the Bush years were just as good as the Clinton years for urban cities. However the one marked difference between the two 8-year periods is that during the last 8 years we've seen a major breakdown of established trends from city to city. The crime trends vary uniquely for each city now, whereas they really didn't earlier.

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