Today, the FBI came out with a shocking crime report. A total of 1,532 more people were murdered in the United States in 2015 than the year before. This represents an 11% increase in the number of murders. The murder rate was higher in 2015 than at any time since 2009. We have lost six (or now, more likely seven) years of progress against our most serious crime.
This dreadful news should set off alarm bells, but it won't. It will set off the complacency brigade. We will be told, for example, that it's just a "statistical variation."
Right! Two percent or three percent or possibly even five percent might be a "statistical variation." Eleven percent is not. It shows a change in behavior with a cause. Academics and policy makers should be concerned about this, rather than concerned about finding a way to dismiss it. But you know that's not going to happen.
What will happen is that the people occupied with their Georgetown and Bethesda parties (i.e., the people running the show at DOJ) will tell us that it's "too early" to draw any conclusions; that we don't know whether it's a "trend;" and that we can't expect crime to go down forever.
In other words, what we're going to see is (mostly poorly disguised) complacency masquerading as taking the "longer view."
This is the largest murder spike in a generation. It is among three or four largest since Dwight Eisenhower was President. It is an indictment of the government's first obligation -- to see to the physical safety of its citizens.
The talk about "no trend" is a diversion. First, it's probably false, as this Time article explains. Second, the best that can be said of it is that, while I have no sure way of knowing the 2015 murder surge is a trend (however that word may be defined), the complacency mongers have no way of knowing it isn't.
Today's awful news has a cause. One of them is the six year-long reduction in the prison population. When criminals are released, they don't just disappear. What they generally do is return to crime. A significant portion of the repeat crimes are going to be violent. Why should we be surprised when the recidivist chickens come home to roost? We've know for years that the rate of recidivism is shockingly high, and we know from the Wendell Callahan scandal that DOJ (and judicial) claims that we are only going to give shorter sentences to non-violent inmates are false.
Another cause is the partly successful (so far) attack on aggressive and pro-active policing led by the Black Live Matter movement, fanned by Barack Obama's rhetoric and, quite importantly, his Justice Department, which, whatever its garbled language might say, increasingly shares the far left view of the police as a racist, occupying army that needs, not an ally but a leash.
It was a few months ago that Director Comey said that he had seen a "chill wind" blowing over police work. Today, his FBI made clear what the chill feels like.