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US policing

Why is America’s murder rate soaring?

Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times/Getty Images

America’s murder rate has “spiked” in the past 12 months, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. Homicide rates in large cities rose by more than 30% in 2020, and they have seen another 24% increase this year. Violent crime in other countries, however, has decreased or stayed stagnant during the pandemic. There’s “one hell of a correlation”: killings surged in the US after George Floyd was murdered by police last May. “It’s as if the Floyd murder, and the subsequent urban chaos, sent a signal: the cops are on the defensive.” Protestors screaming and spray-painting “All Cops Are Bastards” can’t have helped. 

As the University of Utah’s Paul Cassell argues, “skittish” police are pulling back from the kind of “aggressive, proactive policing” that reduces civilian murders. In Minneapolis, “residents complained that the cops were slow to come, or were in the neighbourhoods with their windows up”. That step back has also led to an “unprecedented decline” in fatal police shootings: 244 African-Americans were killed by cops in 2020, but only 72 have been so far in 2021. This confronts us with a “sobering” trade-off: can we only lower police shooting rates if cops stay out of situations where they can save lives? The “supreme irony” of Black Lives Matter may be that it achieves its goal of reducing police violence at the grim cost of many more “black lives lost to civilian murder”.

Read the full article here (paywall).