THIS year, newspapers have been filled with dramatic headlines about a supposed surge in murders. Many cities saw large jumps in crime during the first half of the year: the murder rate rose 48% and 59% compared to the same period the previous year in Baltimore and St Louis, respectively. At the same time, police have been under increased scrutiny: the deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and Michael Brown in Ferguson at police hands have sparked large protests around the country. The fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by a cop, also last year, did not spark protests because by the time a video of the killing was released on November 24, 2015, the officer had been charged with murder. Pundits and police chiefs have speculated that the increase in crime is a result of the “Ferguson effect”—that is, cops will be reluctant to crack down on criminals if they’re being constantly watched.
A recent report from the Brennan Centre provides some new evidence that casts doubt on this theory by showing that crime may not be up by much this year at all. The study looks at crime statistics for 25 out of the 30 largest cities in America and...Continue reading