Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Excuse me, but... where did all the crime go?

I was fascinated by this Doug Berman blog post, reporting on the steep drop in crime in Los Angeles.

How steep? Here's how steep: There is now less crime in that city, overall, than there was in 1957, the year Leave it To Beaver premiered. This, despite the addition of 1,500,000 people to the population!

In the same way that we often don't know what went wrong with crime, in this case we don't really know what went right. Population is up. Narcotics use is the same or greater. The economy is in the tank.

It's essential we find out the answer to that question-- what went right?-- if we are to replicate this remarkable success.

Computation glitch.
Chief Brenda Lee Johnson is running major crimes in LA
Less enforcement?
DDK-- The murder rate doesn't go down that much (from about 1,000/year to about 300) because cases aren't being reported. Dead people tend to be found, and the bullet holes make the stats easy to compile.
The future is in cyber crime. Forward thinking crooks are doing it all on line these days.
It looks like you are trying to shoot a kitten. I have to say, I'm not in favor of that, but do you need help?
I'm not shooting a kitten. I'm robbing a kitten. It's different.
First of all Happy New Year Razor People! Second, as an avid “comments” reader I feel compelled to point out a comment to the LA Times article that prompted both law profs’ blog posts. Here it goes:
“Folks, sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but we are not facing a kinder and gentler environment with these declining statistics. There are many variables that contribute to the crime rate, and most of them are outside of the control of police activity - sorry boys in blue, but that's the truth! Here are some REAL reasons for declining crime:
1. Demographics of the 15-25 year age group, a smaller population than before.
2. Gangs have evolved into an entrepreneurial model, where money is the object of the game, not turf. Look at gangs involvement in organized prostitution, extortion, drug dealing - all going through the roof with record profits.
3. The information technology revolution has moved conflict, planning, and bragging of criminal exploits out of the town square and into cyberspace, thus reducing face to face contacts between crooks.
4. Increased unemployment has provided an unintended consequence: more people at home to watch over their neighborhoods and the activities of their children.
5. The profit margin from IT facilitated crimes such as identity theft, credit card fraud, Medicare fraud, etc. has exploded into a multi-BILLION dollar industry.
Bottom line is a simple question: Do you think there are more crooks out there, or less? My guess is they are the same, smarter, finding new ways to rip you off. Tell the cops to quit congratulating themselves...”
I agree with Prof Osler that a bullet holes leave no room for statistical equivocation, as it turns out there are other ways to make lots more money than shooting people for it, but there's no way of telling how the compilation of bullet holes skews the statistics given the huge number of undocumented people who live in that area.
And you thought I was trying to make a joke.

Thanks Marta for saying what I had in mind with a lot more detail and explanation.
Which would you rather have? Cyber crimes or murders?
The country got older.

In 1967, 36% of the population was 18 or younger. Today, only 24% is.

Older people commit fewer crimes.

Tough, fair law enforcement works.
... and what does that have to do with Los Angeles? It's one of the most not-tough jurisdictions in the country, with notoriously lenient judges in both state and federal courts.
Actually, this sentence from the Berman blog was probably a good place to start this discussion relating to a trend two decades in the making:

"The reasons are complicated and ripe for debate: better policing and more community involvement; fewer drugs and fuller prisons; an explosion in new technology; and the fading profile of violent gangs. The phenomenon ought to be scrutinized. We need to know what mix of forces has conspired to drive crime down, so we can — in an era of shrinking resources — plan and spend wisely to keep this going."
Nice post which the same way that we often don't know what went wrong with crime, in this case we don't really know what went right. Population is up. Narcotics use is the same or greater. The economy is in the tank. Thanks a lot for posting this article.
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