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U.S. violent crime is back at the forefront of the political agenda

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On a Saturday in May, a bullet fired by an unstable man in Times Square eventually wounded a four-year-old girl who was buying toys with her family. It may also change the trajectory of the New York City mayor’s campaign—and change the nation’s discussion of crime and policing.

A few hours later, Eric Adams, a retired sheriff and mayor candidate, held a press conference against the scene and claimed that he was Candidate for rule of lawAdams rejected the militants’ call for the “disinvestment” of the police, and instead promised to send more police officers to the streets to quell the raging gun violence.

This seems to have worked: in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, he won Majority vote, Reinforces how this game started. This game is a debate about how to revitalize a city suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, but has been replaced by concerns about crime and public safety.

The next day, at the White House, President Joseph Biden appeared to be singing a similar tune. “This is not the time to refuse law enforcement,” Biden said, as he announced measures to combat gun violence – from helping the community hire more police officers to combating illegal guns. Biden tried to block the offensive line of the Republican Party. He said that his government is “confronting the bad guys who do bad things to our community.”

Violent crime has been reduced by a generation in the United States, and it is now back-after a surge in shootings and murders across the country, it is back on the political agenda.

According to a report, the number of homicides has increased by 18% compared to this point in 2020-and there has been an increase in homicides this year. sample In New Orleans crime analyst Jeff Asher’s analysis of 72 cities, many experts expect the situation to be worse this summer.

In New York City, as of June 20, shootings have increased by 53%, and have increased by more than 100% in the past two years. The 1,402 shooting incidents in Chicago during the same period increased by 58% from 2019. Police Department.

Republicans are seizing on this issue, condemning the lawlessness of the “democratic city” and blaming it on the progressive demands of the “divestment” of the police. The party this week accused Biden and other Democrats of “doing all they can to subvert law enforcement.”

But violence is widespread and not limited to areas controlled by the Democratic Party. A database maintained by the Gun Violence Archive records 26 mass shootings since June 15 – from Newark, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. to Aurora, Colorado, Anchorage, Alaska, and Alaba Albertville, MA.

“The same phenomenon is happening in every city in the country-big, medium, small, Democratic, Republican, red, blue-it doesn’t matter,” New York University criminal justice professor Mike Lawlor said. New Haven also serves as a Democratic member of the Connecticut House of Representatives. “Shooting incidents are happening everywhere.”

Most criminal justice experts believe that the epidemic has worked, either by increasing economic poverty, closing courts, or blocking young people in crowded neighborhoods, with little transfer.

William Bratton, who leads the New York City and Los Angeles Police Departments, has also criticized some criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the prison population. He believes these reforms are excessive. These include: New York terminates cash bail for all crimes except the most serious crimes.

The most politically significant suggestion regarding the increase in murders points to the anti-police protests against the murder of George Floyd in the summer, or as a result, reduced police activity. But Asher said the data concealed such a simple explanation.

The increase in murders occurred in cities of all sizes, not just where protests broke out, he said: “If you compare the places with the most protests or violent protests, and the growth rate of murders, it just doesn’t matter. .”

A bar chart showing the percentage change in murders from 2019 to 2020, showing the increase in the number of murders in cities of all sizes in the United States by population group

Although shootings and homicides have surged, other crimes (such as burglary) have continued to decline in the past year. This led Lawler to propose a more subtle theory.

He pointed out that shooting incidents are often concentrated among individuals known to law enforcement agencies, and are often caused by a cycle of gang retaliation. In recent years, the police have skillfully contained them by identifying possible perpetrators and then recruiting well-trained community leaders to intervene.

During a pandemic, face-to-face communication to gather intelligence and build relationships is impossible—even more so after the police killing of Freud last year undermined the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement.

“If the community does not trust the police-and the police abandon the community-it will collapse,” Lawler said. At the same time, a large number of people withdrew from departments with low morale.

For the moderate establishment of the Democratic Party, the increasing violence has challenged the progressive calls for the “divestment”-even abolition-of the police, while avoiding the aggression of the 1994 Crime Act signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Sexual impulse.

Biden spent most of his recent presidential campaign in confession to black voters because he used to support mandatory sentences, the “three strikes” rule, and racially charged discussions of “super predators” on city streets. Many Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now express regret.

Although Biden promised to increase police force this week, he also provided funding for vocational training programs. Not everyone is impressed. Kofi Ademola, an adviser to Chicago’s anti-violence organization Good Kids Mad City, said that when violence is concentrated in poorer communities, it’s “good”, but when it enters wealthy areas, “that’s an emergency. time”.

He added: “Look at Biden’s plan and you will see that more money is spent on police than so-called summer work or evidence-based work.”

The organization does not want more police work. Instead, it called for a city decree that would account for 2% of the police budget, or about 35 million U.S. dollars, for projects such as youth employment, counseling and mediation, and violent interruption.

Christopher Hayes, a professor of urban studies at Rutgers University, worries that the most effective policies to reduce violence may not be the easiest to market to voters.

“Seeing this and saying:’Things are out of control, which is very convenient politically. We need to use a hammer to solve this problem,'” Hayes said. “The inconvenient thing is to say,’Many people involved in this matter are very poor.'”

Assuming he becomes the next mayor of New York City-the final count is expected to be completed within a few weeks-Black Adams may be the best test case for the Democratic Party’s ability to treat crime without causing toxic side effects. For months, he has promised voters that he has unique expertise to target violence hotspots and remove guns from the streets, while reforming departments and repairing community relations.

As Adams said in a recent interview: “I support the closure of Rikers (Island Prison), but I also support the closure of Rikers funding channels.”

Soon, New Yorkers — and the entire country — will see if this is possible.

Additional reporting by James Politi in Washington and Claire Bushey in Chicago

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