Crime Report

downloadWhy is crime falling? What’s your theory? This week, The Economist plunged into the muddy waters of crime control and tried to look around.

They found that with the launch of the internet game,”Grand Theft Auto 5,” and the continuing popularity of cop shows and murder mysteries, that fictional crime remains popular while the taste for real crime seems to be diminishing.

In Britain, crime figures are as low as they have been since 1981, and in our country, murder rates are at a 40 year low. Why? What’s going on”

The Economist postulates,:

“There are lots of theories—and few experts agree. The crack cocaine and heroin epidemics of the 1980s and 1990s have largely burnt out. Electronic crime and fraud has distracted some professional criminals from traditional ways of stealing stuff. Policing has improved, and more people are locked up in prison. The two wildest ideas are the introduction of legal abortion and the phaseout of leaded petrol. Unwanted babies were more likely to grow as criminals, it was argued: that theory is now largely discredited: it doesn’t cross borders and crime has continued to fall long after the effect should have tapered off. Exposure to lead in childhood supposedly creates more impulsive and violent adults. That hypothesis is effective at explaining the reduction in violent crime in the United States but fits less well with other countries; in France, for example, violent crime has increased of late, despite unleaded petrol.”

And so on… There are more conventional explanations – a 20 percent increase in police between 1995 and 2010, improvements in police technology including forensics, working to reduce the crime “numbers,” and more community-oriented policing start-ups around the country. In comparison, economically strapped Detroit has significantly reduced the numbers of its police and the crime numbers have increased.

The most intriguing speculation The Economist makes is that many crimes have become more difficult to commit and less rewarding in nature. The crimes to have fallen furthest and in the most places are property crimes, especially car theft and burglary. Whereas, the cell phone explosion has resulted in more personal robberies in many European countries.

The Economist went on to remind us about the relationship between technology and crime reduction: “Thanks to technology which makes it far harder to hotwire a car—car thieves now have to steal the keys—joyriding has all but died out. Burglar alarms, security locks and so on have had a similar, though less stark, effect on burglary.”

Nevertheless, few agree experts on the significance of all of these factors. All or none may have contributed to the fall in crime, in different quantities in different countries. (NOTE: Remember, when we talk about crime we are more often than not talking about the incidents that victims [as well as police] chose to report and not the actual numbers of the events that have occurred. For example, in the past, murder has been highly reported. But does the decrease in the murder rate have more to do with the improvement of emergency medicine and systems of para-medicine? Without improvements in our medical practices these assaults would have been murders a short time ago. And we all know that sexual assault, whether occurring in the ranks of our nation’s military or outside the base, has been highly under-reported.)

In many ways, we have become smarter in the technological sense, but have failed in the more “hands-on” human tasks of properly handling public protest, encouraging our “best and brightest” to enter policing, and requiring our nation’s police to make a commitment to (and proceed to act on) the values that have made our country great – fairness, equality, respect for others, protecting those who cannot care for themselves, and continuously improving that which they do.

I still maintain that police will never be as effective as they could be unless they overcome the four historic obstacles that have tended to “arrest” their development: anti-intellectualism, violence, corruption, and discourtesy.

To see the entire article CLICK HERE.

To take a peek at my new book, “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off…”, CLICK HERE.