The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Still Lying About Crime and Lockdowns

I have harped a few times on claims that Covid closures caused crime to escalate. The right-wing Greek chorus has been chanting this since the pandemic started. Now, they never check if something is caused by the pandemic or by the closure, but they also never check if their claim is true.

One thing I did was look at stats in some of the major cities and found them very mixed indeed. In general crime was down while some specific crimes were up over last year, but the last year was very low in the grand scheme of things. So what was up from last year was often down from 3 years ago, 5 years ago, etc.

Trends for crime have general hit historical lows compared to the last 120 years and when you get that low it doesn’t take much for the rate to go up — something the panicky conservatives leave out. For instance, the average homicide rate for the last decade was 4.87 per 100,000 population which is significantly below the rate for the 1960s, which previously was the lowest over the last 60 years. Even the “idylic” 1950s had homicide rates only slightly lower than the 2010s last decade—4.42 vs 4.87. In fact the last decade had the second lowest homicide rate for the U.S. since 1910!

Of course, 2020 isn’t over yet but what data we do have doesn’t back up the exaggerated claims of the Truthers. Covid truthers and facts are often not on speaking terms. I found that while New York City saw homicides higher than last year they are down from five years ago, 10 years ago, etc. At the same time violent assaults are down from last year, rapes are down from last year and most all other crimes are down from last year. That in spite of last year having relatively low numbers compared to the last 20+ years.

Los Angeles saw homicides up by 57 from last year but rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglary, spouse abuse, child abuse, are all down. Compstat numbers for LA show ALL violent crime is down 3.2% from last year and down 5.8% from 2018. All property crimes are down 10.8%.

One of the cities with the strictest lockdowns was San Francisco, where Covid deaths are well below their neighbors. If lockdowns drive up crime San Francisco should be a shooting range with everyone on the streets a target. Not so!

Total violent crimes in S.F. declined by 22% from 2019, on a YTD basis up to the end of October. Homicides were up by 9 while last year there was the lowest homicide number since 1961. Rape was down 50%, Robbery down 23%, and Aggravated Assault down 16%.

Chicago has a similar pattern. Crime is up from last year in some areas but down in general overall. Total major crimes reported YTD in 2020 are down 7% from 2019. From four years ago homicides are down 1%, sexual assault is down 10%, robbery is -33%, aggravated battery -8%, burglary -37%, theft -30%, and motor vehicle theft -11%.

In Comes the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report

The data I had was localized to a few cities. The FBI has released a preliminary report for the first half of 2020, the period with the lockdowns that generated these claims from Covid Truthers. It really doesn’t help to rewrite what the FBI said, so I’ll use a long quote on the actual crime stats, as they currently stand:

The FBI’s Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, January–June, 2020, reveals overall declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported for the first six months of 2020 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2019. The report is based on information from 12,206 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data for both years to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

Violent Crime

  • When data from the first six months of 2020 were compared with data from the first six months of 2019, the number of rape offenses decreased 17.8%, and robbery offenses were down 7.1%. The number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 14.8%, and aggravated assault offenses were up 4.6%.
  • The overall number of violent crimes decreased in four city population groups. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of less than 10,000 reported the largest decrease, 7.2%. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of 100,000 to 249,000 reported the smallest decrease, 0.3%.
  • Violent crime decreased in three of the four regions of the nation. These crimes were down 4.8% in the Northeast, 1.8% in the Midwest, and 1.1% in the West. However, violent crime increased in the South, 2.5%.

What I find curious is the one region with a consistent rise in violent crime was the South, which is Republican controlled and are states where little to nothing was done regarding lockdowns due to the virus.

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A blog for the Moorfield Storey Institute: a liberaltarian think tank.

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.

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