Crawford: Covid Becomes an Excuse for Crime

My colleague Josh Crawford wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal yesterday about how blaming rising crime on the covid19 pandemic masks bad policy decisions that have been made over the past few years. From the article:

The national homicide rate in 2022 was 43% higher than in 2014. Since 2015, there have been roughly 30,000 more murders in the U.S. than there would have been if the homicide rate had stayed at the 2014 low.

None of this is easily attributable to Covid, nor are the vast local differences in violent crime and homicide rates that emerged in the past year and a half. Some cities have seen marked drops in crime. So far in 2023 homicides are down 17% in Atlanta, violent crime has fallen 12% in Dallas, and Miami’s murder and violent crime rates have hit historic lows. Elsewhere, things aren’t going nearly as well. In Washington, violent crime is up 40% in the first 10 months of 2023 compared with this time last year, and homicides are up 33%. Seattle has already had 10 more murders this year than in all of 2022. San Francisco’s murder rate also is on track to surpass last year’s.

Pre- and post-pandemic comparisons obscure it, but there’s an obvious factor that explains the rate differences in these places and the overall national increase: public safety policy. Officials in Washington, Seattle and San Francisco all have permissive attitudes toward criminals and hostile ones toward police. The capital has been a leader in bad policy. Washington has twice significantly defunded the police in recent years, and in 2022 attempted to reduce penalties for carjackings even as auto-theft rates were skyrocketing. That change was so ill-advised that Congress overturned it this year.

By contrast, Atlanta, Dallas and Miami all treat crime as a serious problem. The Georgia government has led a robust antigang effort, while Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens pledged to hire an additional 250 police officers by the end of 2023. Dallas has used targeted policing in crime hot spots; Miami has remained dedicated to law enforcement.

Mayor Dickens commitment to increasing the police force is a positive step in fighting crime in Atlanta. He should be applauded for his efforts to keep our Capitol city safe.

For more on how to reduce crime in Atlanta, click here.

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