Have scare headlines exaggerated the U.S. crime wave? Yes, argues Carl Bialik in a fivethirtyeight.com blogpost piece on crime.
Bialik has painstakingly compiled 2014 and 2015-to-date homicide numbers from the nation's 60 largest municipalities, with the exception of Anaheim, Calif., where officials promised to get back to him but haven't yet. He reports that homicides have only increased 16 percent this year in these 60 cities, from (by my count: I'd be grateful for corrections of any arithmetic errors) 2,955 to 3,437. He points out, accurately, that murder rates even remain far below — at less than or just a bit more than half — the horrifying rates that prevailed from 1970-94.
He points out, again accurately, that while homicides have risen sharply in some cities (Milwaukee, Baltimore) as featured in a New York Times front page story and (though he doesn't cite this) one of my recent Washington Examiner columns, they haven't risen much in some others (Philadelphia, Detroit) and have declined in some (San Diego, Jacksonville). His tone seems to be: Nothing to see here, let's move on to something else.
I take a different view. A 16 percent rise in homicides is alarming. We're talking about an additional 482 lives being violently ended in 60 cities. That's not chopped liver.