Friday, August 19, 2016

Crime in Context: Violent Crime is up in some Places, but is it really a Trend?
"Is crime in America rising or falling? The answer is not nearly as simple as politicians sometimes make it out to be, because of how the FBI collects and handles crime data from the country’s more than 18,000 police agencies. Those local reports are voluntary and sometimes inconsistent. And the bureau takes months or years to crunch the numbers, so the national data lags behind the current state of crime.

To present a fuller picture of crime in America, The Marshall Project collected and analyzed 40 years of FBI data — through 2014 — on the most serious violent crimes in 68 police jurisdictions. [It] also obtained data directly from 61 local agencies for 2015 — a period for which the FBI has not yet released its numbers. (Our analysis found that violent crime in these jurisdictions rose 4 percent last year. But crime experts caution against making too much of year-over-year statistics.)

In the process, [The Marshall Project was] struck by the wide variation from community to community. To paraphrase an aphorism about politics, all crime is local. Each city has its own trends that depend on the characteristics of the city itself, the time frame, and the type of crime. In fact, the trends vary from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities; a recent study posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of the crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live."

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