Culture Wars/Current Controversies

America’s two crime problems

By Joel Mathis, The Week

Last week brought fresh evidence that America has two crime problems: crime itself, and the police who are supposed to solve and prevent those crimes. It is not clear the two problems can be fixed independently.

The FBI released statistics showing the United States in 2020 saw its largest-ever year-over-year jump in homicides — a nearly 30 percent increase from the year before. One obvious explanation for the new numbers is the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced most Americans into a stressful lockdown. Another is that the country is so awash in guns that it’s all too easy for violence to surge when times get bad.

Some conservatives have offered another possibility. They suggest that the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that sprung up during Summer 2020 after George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer unleashed a wave of “anti-police fervor” that ended up making communities less safe.

“Police are retiring or quitting in droves, often because they do not want to take the daily abuse unleashed by the mobs unfairly blaming average cops for the racial problems that the Floyd case revealed,” Henry Olsen wrote in The Washington Post. He added: “There is also evidence that police are pulling back in performing some of their duties. Confronting someone for a traffic violation or what appears to be a misdemeanor could result in escalation, which it seems many cops are not willing to risk given the politicization of their jobs.”

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