In these anxious days of point-of-view reporting, it can become challenging to sort out truth from fiction. Some stories the reader can see between the lines and sense that something is off, but other times it can become quite the struggle to figure out where the truth lies.
Here at Liberty Nation we often write a polemic on a subject but on other occasions we make an effort to analyze differing points of view so you can decide for yourself. This is one of those times.
Our story revolves around the murder epidemic in the Windy City and just who or what is to blame. Most are aware that the homicide rate in Chicago has sky-rocketed. A recent study may hold some clues as to what is happening to cause this terrible carnage. The analysis was conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab. They describe themselves as, “a privately-funded, independent, non-partisan academic research center.” Fair enough. Sounds like they have no pony in this race. Here’s what the University of Chicago News printed regarding their findings:
Last year, Chicago saw 764 murders, an increase of 58 percent over 2015. Chicago’s homicide rate per capita is near the middle for major U.S. cities—lower than Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis, but higher than New York City, Los Angeles and Houston.
Still, any way you cut it a 58% increase in one year is nothing less than staggering. That’s a whole lot of brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the county morgue. The actual Crime Lab report did not clearly delineate the reason for this crime spike:
What caused Chicago’s sudden surge in gun violence in 2016 remains a puzzle. Weather cannot explain the surge in homicides and shootings, since monthly temperatures in 2016 were close to their historical averages. City spending on social services and public education did not change much in 2016 compared to previous years, and while the state budget impasse disrupted funding for many community organizations, this did not seem to change sharply in December 2015. Most relevant measures of police activity did not change abruptly enough to explain the surge in gun violence. Overall arrests declined in 2016, driven by narcotics arrests, but arrests for violent crimes, including homicides and shootings, barely changed.
Doesn’t sound too helpful in determining the cause of so many deaths. So Liberty Nation dug deep in the weeds of the report to find the following:
One policing measure that declined was the chance of arrest for homicides and shootings (the “clearance rate”), which was a result of arrests for these crimes not keeping pace with the increase in gun violence. Another policing measure that declined was the number of investigatory street stops. However, for this to explain why shootings increased in Chicago would also require an explanation for why the previous dramatic decline in street stops in New York City did not lead to more gun violence there.
Well, maybe because New York isn’t Chicago? Different cities, different folks. It’s altogether possible that the crime situation in Chicago does not parallel that of NYC. It could be gang-related, drug-related – the list is endless. But hidden in that paragraph is a statistical indicator that crime stops went down.
Matt Finn of FoxNews.com reported the following:
According to a comprehensive new study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, the city’s exclusive contract with the American Civil Liberties Union could be having a significant impact on Chicago’s crime.
“This is one of the few dramatic changes where the timing does fit the increase in homicides and so it seems it would be rash to reflectively rule this out as a possibility,” said Dr. Jens Ludwig, the director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab.
The agreement the city of Chicago struck with the ACLU in 2016 requires that officers fill out paperwork after every single stop, with the information to be compiled and analyzed by the ACLU.
Naturally, the ACLU cried foul and published a vehement denial that their agreement with the city of Chicago was behind the uptick in crime:
We reject any suggestion of a so-called “ACLU effect” to explain the recent spike in gun violence on Chicago’s streets. There is no discernible link between the rate of invasive street stops and searches by police and the level of violence. Indeed, when such stops dramatically decreased in other cities, like New York City, we saw no such rise in crime. There simply is not any evidence of this so-called “effect.”
Rather, there are many complicated, interrelated things going on currently with crime and policing in the City of Chicago, issues playing out in the news and on the streets each day. Chicago police are under increasing scrutiny for use of force and a culture of silence. It is wrong to suggest that an effort to advance constitutional policing, transparency and oversight of police is the cause of a spike in violence over a relatively short period of time. Policing can be constitutional and effective and Chicago deserves no less.
Of course, the ACLU is correct in asserting that “policing can be constitutional and effective.” We certainly do not want to live in a police state where everybody and their brother is being stopped for no reason. On the other hand, forcing the cops to fill out two pages of paperwork after each and every stop is unquestionably a hindrance and could reasonably be considered a deterrent in crime prevention.
The most troubling element of this whole story is timing. I’m not a big believer in coincidences and the rate of declining police stops just as the ACLU agreement went into effect, coupled with the 58% increase in homicides reveals – if not establishes — some kind of link.
Politics is tricky business when it comes to public safety. Whatever is going on in Chicago – whether it is the ACLU agreement or not – the folks in Chicago better get a handle on it, and soon. Because if it was my brother or sister on a slab in that county morgue, I’d be wanting some answers, not a lot of PC baloney.
The people of Chicago have a right and the politicians in the city a responsibility to reign in this carnage. Otherwise, the President just might make good on his promise to “send in the Feds.” And who really wants that?