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August 2, 2021

In 2021, homicides are now down in Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New York City, St. Louis and ...

this post is intended to highlight that one can now mine data from this webpage, where AH Datalytics has compiled a "YTD Murder Comparison" for 73 cities, to now tell an encouraging story about US homicide trends.  Critically, though, here I am cherry picking data, as there are many more cities on the list in which homicides are up rather than down.  And, of course, given last year's significant homicide increases in most cities, having some decreases in homicide in some cities is not something to celebrate robustly.

Still, the trends are continuing to be encouraging. The latest NYC data through Aug 1, 2021, show a dramatic decline in homicides over the last month, which has now turned 2021 into a down year for homicides in Gotham City.  As I have noted before, on July 12 in this tweet, Jeff Asher noted that the "change in murder relative to last year is dropping in cities with data.  A few weeks ago it was +22%, last week it was +18%, now it's +16%."  And now, as of early August, Asher's data show we are down to a 13% year-to-date increase, providing further reason to be hopeful that the COVID-era homicide spike may already be ending.

If these encouraging trends continue, we could end up seeing declines in homicides nationwide by the end of 2021.  Still, every homicide is one too many.  And, like with the pandemic, it seems wise not to make too many bold predictions about what will happen next month or the month after that in cities or elsewhere (where we lack great real-time crime data).  That said, I think the recent data trends in a number of big cities provide an important counter to the homicide spike narrative that has been prevalent over the last year and that has risked derailing some criminal justice reform efforts.  

Prior recent related post:

August 2, 2021 at 11:53 PM | Permalink


I'm pretty sure (1) crime levels are still at historic lows and (2) the long-term trend remains on a downward trajectory.

Why is it so surprising that a pandemic causing massive economic upheaval in the U.S. (and worldwide) might lead to crime bumping up in the short term? Occam's Razor alone should be enough to arrive at that conclusion; you don't have to be a brainiac. Anyone making more out of it than that strikes me as mindlessly and excessively alarmist and/or pushing some kind of bad-faith agenda.

Now that the eviction moratorium seems to be kaput—unfortunately—I also wouldn't be surprised to see a further uptick in crime. But that would in no way undermine the premise of what I've said above.

Posted by: kotodama | Aug 3, 2021 10:15:28 AM

To be clear, the eviction moratorium is not completely kaput -- the Biden Administration noted that even if a general moratorium is unlikely to be upheld by the Supreme Court,* partial relief is still possible for some residents. Also, various local areas will continue the moratorium (such as NY and CA as I understand it) in some form.


I also rather not make any bold predictions, but then, that's because I'm simply not an expert of any sort in the statistics involved. I would add that the socioeconomics involved go beyond "simple" criminal justice policy such as sentencing laws and such. As I have noted in the past, I ultimately see "crime policy" as an open-ended thing.

* The Administration said that the Supreme Court said such and such when only Kavanaugh expressly said so.

But, counting noses, adding the four conservatives who dissented without comment, the basic truth is that extending the moratorium w/o congressional approval is unlikely to be upheld.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 3, 2021 11:32:32 AM

No dispute there, but the comprehensive nationwide moratorium, as previously formulated, is no longer an ongoing concern at least. That was my basic point. So, whatever piecemeal, incomplete relief takes its place is still going to create a gap. And it's not a big stretch to predict that gap having some upward influence on crime.

I'm not claiming to be an expert. And I don't think it's particularly "bold" either to note these kinds of general statistics. They are--or at least should be--pretty obvious to most folks. But my complaint is that a lot of people seem to be ignoring them deliberately, or somehow can't comprehend them. The MSM--per usual--bears a lot of culpability for mishandling this sort of basic statistical context. But that doesn't excuse actual experts who really should know better.

Posted by: kotodama | Aug 3, 2021 11:43:27 AM

Here's another "bold" prediction in parting. Whenever the fallout from the pandemic is truly and finally behind us--hopefully in another year or so, at the latest--all this present commotion about "crime spikes" will be completely memory holed. But whatever oppressive measures were implemented in response to the uninformed and/or bad-faith fearmongering will still be around and kicking.

It's like the oil price spike during the energy crisis. Hopefully folks here remember that. I remember how the airlines and other companies starting imposing "temporary" fuel surcharges in response. Somehow though, I don't recall those surcharges being rescinded after the crisis had passed. They just got baked into the normal ticket price. I have a strong feeling all these ridiculous police measures will end up the exact same way.

Posted by: kotodama | Aug 3, 2021 12:40:06 PM

Yes, crime rates are at historic lows, as documented (with source data links) in my new post at https://ricknevin.com/2021/08/a-crime-surge-without-robbers-burglars-or-thieves/ and that crime decline is continuing through the first six months of 2021.

Posted by: Rick Nevin | Aug 3, 2021 10:01:48 PM

Mr. Nevin, much obliged for providing the receipts!

Also, I just have to reiterate how laughable it is that, even if this crime/homicide "spike" were truly worrying, deploying more police would somehow be a credible solution. When in recorded history have the police ever actually broken up a homicide in progress? Rather, homicides will go up even more. Because cops will be committing them.

Posted by: kotodama | Aug 4, 2021 12:49:54 AM

The A. H. Analytics data on homicides is quite useful. My local police department in Lexington also keeps a page with a running tally of homicides, ages of victims and defendants, and what arrests (if any) have been made. The comparative data for Lexington and Louisville is really quite troubling. Both Lexington and Louisville set new homicide records in 2020. By August 2, 2021, Lexington has had 24 homicides, compared to 19 by that date in 2020 (the city had 34 total homicides in 2020). This is an increase of 26.32% YTD. By July 21, 2021, Louisville has had 104 homicides, compared to 68 homicides by that date in 2020 (the city had a total of 173 total homicides in 2020). This is an increase of 52.94% YTD. It is interesting to compare Fayette County, Ky. (which includes Lexington in a combined Urban-County Government) with Jefferson County (Louisville), Ky., since the population of the latter is roughly double that of Fayette County (640,000 people, 23% black, versus 332,000 people, 14% black). Yet, Louisville is a much more violent city than Lexington is, as one can see by looking at the comparable homicide stats. Some of that difference is attributable to the fact that the Louisville population has a much higher percentage of poor, uneducated black citizens. In both cities, the shooters and the victims are mostly black (more than 70% of all homicides). In Lexington, there has been a dramatic increase in the youth of the shooters and the victims in the last 5 years. Historically, not so many young black men (14 to 26 years old) have had firearms as is the case now. A week ago, we had a 13-year old charged with killing a 14-year old. And a year ago, we had a 16-year old charged with killing another 16-year old. What is the world coming to? We have had many youths, aged 14 to 26 charged with homicide. One 20-year old is charged with 3 counts of homicide (and many other violent charges). His father is presently serving 20 years in state prison for 2nd degree assault, doubled by being a persistent felony offender. Most of these young men are involved in gangs, and there are gang tentacles that reach from Detroit and Chicago into the Lexington gangs. Ultimately, all of this violence emanates from just a few hundred people out of a population of 332,000. Recently, two 18-year old gang members shot up the front of a house in a good neighborhood, blinding a 5-year old boy for life. They had been sent to retaliate against an insult on social media concerning a deceased gang member. Ultimately, these 2 idiots had the wrong address and shot up the wrong house. The person they intended to get lived next door to the house that got shot up. Sheer craziness, with no easy solutions in sight.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Aug 4, 2021 6:48:31 PM

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