Opinions and Legal Insights

What Causes Rising Crime? Democrats or Virus, Summer

At last week’s Republican convention, Patrick Lynch, president of New York City’s largest police union, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered the city as a bleak case study in failed liberal policies. Nearly 1,000 people have been shot this year, 87 percent more than last year, and almost 300 killed, up 35 percent. “Why is this happening?” Lynch asked. “The answer is simple: The Democrats have walked away from us.” Giuliani said, “Don’t let the Democrats do to America what they have done to New York.” Crime remains at a generational low across the nation, and the causes of this year’s wave of violence are hard to pin down, says the New York Times.

The surge in New York violence arrived amid a two percent drop in major crimes. The spike comes after seven years of record-breaking calm. Murders dipped below 300 in 2017 for the first time since the 1950s. New York police link the shooting rise to a new state bail law that vastly increased the number of pretrial defendants who could be freed and to the release of hundreds of jail inmates to curb coronavirus. Criminologists attribute the rise in violence to the advent of summer, especially difficult this year under the economic and psychological strain of the pandemic and the unrest over police brutality. During 2020’s first six months, murders rose in 25 large cities 16.1 percent over last year. The trend is not limited to Democratic-controlled cities. In Tulsa, with a Republican mayor, police recorded 12 homicides in June compared to four in June 2019. The mayhem does not rival the high-crime era of late 1980s and early 1990s. Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis said crime has not spread the same way it did 30 years ago. It appears concentrated in poor neighborhoods. “Cities are not awash in crime,” he said.