According to the FBI, the US homicide rate increased by nearly 8 percent in 2016, which indicated that there was an increase in violent crime for two years in a row. The report also provided a breakdown of crimes by race and ethnicity. The FBI report, “Crime in the US,” is released every year and is based on crimes reported to local police. Crime is figured in two categories: violent crime and property crime, which encompass seven major crimes.

The report showed that property crime rate has actually continued a lengthy declining trend, decreasing 2 percent from 2015 to 2016. When figured together, violent crime and property crime indicate that overall crime has continued to decrease into 2016. Because of the spike in violent crime, the Trump administration cited the statistic has proof that tougher criminal policies are needed. In a press release, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “For the sake of all Americans, we must confront and turn back the rising tide of violent crime. And we must do it together." Sessions added that the Department of Justice is working with local and state jurisdictions to deter violent crime and the activities of criminal organizations.

There was an increase in violent crime reported for US communities ranging in size and geography. Cities with a population of more than 1 million saw the biggest increase in violent crime: 7.2 percent. The number of murders in that subset increased 20.3 percent from 2015 to 2016. Violent crime continues to be concentrated in just a few large cities. Chicago, for instance, accounted for about one-fifth of the national increase in murders, according to Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

According to John Pfaff of Fordham University, about half of the homicide rise in Chicago took place in five neighborhoods. In other words, five Chicago neighborhoods explain 10 percent of the national increase in homicide rates. The FBI report also provided a breakdown by race and ethnic group:

Aggravated Assault rate per 100,000

Blacks 254.35

Hispanic 112.84

White 65.68

Robbery rate per 100,000

Blacks 104.22

Hispanics 23.39

Whites 10.32

Motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000

Black 52.54

Hispanic 26.16

Whites    15.55

Murder and manslaughter rate per 100,000

Black 12.37

Hispanic 2.54

White 1.42

Rape per 100,000

Black 13.57

Hispanic 6.94

White 4.45

The Ferguson Effect on crime rates

Citing Department of Justice statistics, attorney Peter Kirsanow of the US Commission on Civil Rights appeared on Fox News in an interview with Tucker Carlson on September 28 and provided empirical data to dispel what he called a “false narrative” that white cops are targeting black civilians, while also providing insight into crime rates among black Americans. Over the last two years, the spike in violent crime rates has been accompanied by controversies and violent protests over the shooting deaths of blacks at the hands of white police officers.

Kirsanow began his remarks by saying that blacks are killed two and half times more often by police than whites. But he then went on to note that this rate is far less than would be predicted in light of black crime rates. As an example, Kirsanow said that in New York City, blacks are 35 times more likely to commit robberies than whites; 38 times more likely to commit murders than whites; and 51 times more likely to engage in shootings than whites, regardless of whether they resulted in homicide. Warning against the so-called "Ferguson effect," coined by researcher Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute, Kirsanow described how it plays out in many American communities.

The alleged effect of the controversy and protests unleashed by the 2015 shooting death of teenaged Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, said Kirsanow, has been to cause police around the country to withdraw from active and proactive policing. "Sometimes," Kirsanow said, "city administrations tell them to, as we saw with the mayor of Baltimore. The Obama administration had consent decrees which changed police practices.”

Kirsanow said that despite decades of declining crime rates, after the Ferguson shooting and protests, the United States “saw a significant spike in violent crimes, most especially in those cities where we've witnessed these types of high-profile shootings and protests that resulted in police drawing back.” One notable fact that Kirsanow provided is that black police officers are not holding back from policing. “Black cops are 3.3 times more likely to shoot black suspects than white cops,” said Kirsanow.

By examining correlative data comparing black involvement in crime as opposed to police shootings, said Kirsanow, “the number of shootings are far below that which would be predicted based on crime involvement.”

“When you’ve got this false narrative, and this perpetuation of protests that cause the Ferguson effect, here’s what the consequences are: take a look at the data. Despite the dramatic drop in the crime rates, in 2015, 900 more blacks than in the year before. In 2016, 900 more. We had 7,881 blacks killed in 2016; the vast majority, more than 90 percent by other blacks not cops. That’s nearly twice as many as the number of soldiers killed in the entire Iraq War. And it is at least partially the consequence of this false narrative feeding this outrage, which feeds the protests, which then results in a Ferguson effect, and then the spike in the crime rates.”

Cops retreat

Following the death of a black 14-year-old in Detroit at the hands of a Michigan State Police trooper in August, politicians and community activists in Michigan have called for the resignation of the department's current chief. So far, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has refused. After protests emerged over alleged "racism" on the part of white police officers, the Michigan State Police have pulled out their patrols in Detroit's Ninth Precinct -- the most violent district in one of America's most violent cities. 

About one week after the death of teenaged Damon Grimes, who was tasered by a MSP trooper while riding his ATV illegally on a street in Detroit's Ninth Precinct, MSP pulled out of the area. State Police Lt. Mike Shaw  explained that police officials decided to suspend the patrols, which had been going on since 2012 as part of the state’s Secure Cities Partnership initiative. MSP patrols cities like Detroit and Flint because there is inadequate coverage offered by municipal police.  “We moved the troopers out of the 9th Precinct because there’s such an obvious presence there, and to have state police cars in the area might cause problems in the community,” Shaw said. “If DPD [Detroit Police Department] needs support (in the 9th Precinct), we’ll provide it, but we thought it was a good idea to stop patrolling there for now.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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