Salvo 06.27.2024 5 minutes

Crime Revisionism 

Man mugging woman in street (video still, Digital Composite)

Public safety can’t be wished into reality by politicians.

Attorney General Merrick Garland recently spoke about a “historic” decline in violent crime across America. 

FBI data “makes clear that last year’s historic decline in violent crime is continuing,” he assured America. “This continued historic decline in homicides,” he added, “does not represent abstract statistics. It represents people whose lives were saved—people who are still here to see their children grow up, to work toward fulfilling their dreams, and to contribute to their communities.” 

The Attorney General’s misleading statement obscures the troubling reality of increasing, not decreasing, lawlessness. Despite FBI data indicating a 15 percent drop in violent crime and a 26 percent decrease in murders in early 2024, these statistics are marred by significant gaps in reporting, particularly from major cities like Los Angeles and New York City. 

This fact was first highlighted by the Marshall Project, a left-leaning organization that focuses on the country’s criminal justice system. By 2020, the non-profit point out, nearly all law enforcement agencies were included in the FBI’s database. Some agencies provided basic figures, such as total murders or car thefts, using the Summary Reporting System, while others submitted detailed incident reports through the newer National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). 

However, everything changed in 2021. In an effort to modernize fully, the FBI stopped accepting data from the old summary system and mandated that all data must come through the new system. Consequently, numerous police agencies failed to transition in time, resulting in their data not being captured. This includes the NYPD and LAPD, two of the country’s largest police forces. 

Their omission matters a lot. Incomplete data sets are problematic because they compromise the integrity, reliability, and credibility of the findings. They fail to capture a true picture of reality. 

In Los Angeles, violent crime has risen by 2.9 percent compared to the previous year, with robberies surging by 9.5 percent. Homicides and other violent offenses continue to plague the city, contradicting any narrative of a downturn in crime. Similarly, in New York City, internal NYPD data obtained by the New York Post reveals that serious crime has spiked to levels unseen in nearly two decades during Mayor Eric Adams’s tenure, despite his Garlandesque claims that “crime is down.” Assaults alone approached a record 28,000 incidents, highlighting a city grappling with escalating violence. In Pennsylvania, an entire state largely excluded from FBI reports, violent crime is also a massive problem

As the United States approaches pivotal elections, the issue of escalating violent crime has become increasingly intertwined with broader societal challenges, including immigration policy and economic struggles. Against the backdrop of a border crisis and a cost of living nightmare, the integrity of crime statistics and the policies advocated by political parties have never been more critical. 

Violent crime rates, despite claims of decline, belie the harsh realities faced by many American cities. Cities like Los Angeles and New York City underscore the disconnect between official FBI reports and the lived experiences of residents. This discrepancy not only erodes public trust in law enforcement but also hampers effective policymaking to address criminal behavior. 

The crisis at the southern border has exacerbated concerns over public safety. The influx of illegal immigration has been linked to spikes in violent crime in border states and beyond. The lack of effective border control and immigration enforcement has allowed criminal elements to exploit vulnerabilities, impacting local communities and straining law enforcement resources. Meanwhile, drug overdose deaths continue to soar. Places like Portland, Oakland, and San Francisco, increasingly resemble dystopian hellscapes full of homeless junkies, unspeakable acts of indecency, and general decay. 

Heading into November, these intertwined issues have elevated crime to a decisive political battleground. One party emphasizes robust law and order policies, advocating for transparent and accountable crime reporting to accurately reflect and address public safety concerns. This approach prioritizes community safety and seeks to restore trust in law enforcement through data-driven strategies. 

In contrast, the opposing narrative presents a rosier, albeit inaccurate portrayal of public safety trends, potentially undermining efforts to confront the true scale of crime and implement effective solutions. This disparity in perception and policy approach underscores the stakes for voters, who must weigh the credibility of crime statistics and the sincerity of proposed solutions when casting their ballots. 

To address these challenges effectively, a concerted effort is needed to demand transparency and accuracy in crime reporting. This begins with ensuring that all law enforcement agencies fully adopt the NIBRS system, with robust support from state and federal authorities to facilitate compliance and enhance reporting capabilities. Resources and technical assistance must be provided to local departments to overcome barriers to data submission and ensure comprehensive reporting of crime trends. 

Moreover, rebuilding public trust in law enforcement requires acknowledging and addressing the discrepancies between official crime statistics and the genuine safety concerns voiced by communities. This is not the fault of police officers. It’s the fault of the current administration. 

As is painfully evident, the nation confronts a convergence of challenges—escalating violent crime, immigration crises, and economic hardships. The only way to address these problems is through honest, transparent, and effective leadership. One party offers this, and it’s not the one currently running the country. Merrick Garland would have you believe otherwise, but between him and the truth of one’s own senses, whom would you care to believe? 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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