Crime and Policing
May 22, 2017
Are tougher anti-crime measures needed?

President Trump is vowing to end the “American carnage” and restore law and order in a country that he says is facing a crime wave from gangs, undocumented immigrants and others. His first budget seeks more money to fight violent crime. He also wants funding to build more prisons and to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out undocumented immigrants, many of whom he says are criminals. Experts, however, say they see no evidence of a long-term nationwide crime wave, despite a rise in violent deaths in some large cities. They also say undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than do native-born Americans. Meanwhile, debate continues about police shootings of civilians and whether consent decrees — court-enforced agreements requiring police reforms — improve or worsen public safety.

Chicago police investigate a shooting in April. The nation’s third-largest city recorded 762 homicides last year. (Getty Images/Chicago Tribune/Eric Clark)   Chicago police investigate a shooting in April. The nation’s third-largest city recorded 762 homicides last year. (Getty Images/Chicago Tribune/Eric Clark)

President Trump and his aides say rising crime rates demonstrate the need for tougher law enforcement, but many experts dispute that a lasting crime wave is underway.

Violent crime increased about 3 percent in the nation’s 30 largest cities last year, and homicides jumped 14 percent, while the overall crime rate rose less than 1 percent, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. More than 40 percent of the nationwide increase in homicides occurred in Chicago. Footnote 1

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