Politics

Violent Crime Surges in California

'Ferguson Effect' strikes again as reversal of 20-year trend of decline continues

Violent crime in California experienced a 10 percent increase this past year in a surge that echoes the trends documented in several major U.S. cities and states.

The statistics for 2015 show that the numbers have risen in every major category of violent crime since 2014 in California, according to reports that were released from the state attorney general’s office on Friday. The numbers seem to correspond with the rise of anti-law enforcement culture, liberal justice reforms, severe drug abuse crises and the continued influx of illegal immigrants across the nation.

“Three plausible explanations of the homicide rise: the expansion of urban drug markets, failing imprisonment rates, and the effects of widely publicized and controversial incidents of the use of force by the police against minority citizens.”

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“Crime rates, particularly violent crime rates, have just been dropping precipitously for many years and this could be seen as a kind of slight regression from that,” University of California, Berkeley, criminologist Barry Krisberg, a former president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, told the Associated Press.

The total number of violent crimes committed in 2015 rose almost 15,000 more from 2014 to a total of 166,588. Homicides increased by 9.7 percent, and of the homicide victims, 43 percent were Latinos, 28.4 percent were black and 21.3 percent were white. Roughly 29 percent of the homicides arose from gang-related incidents. In addition, robbery and aggravated assault jumped by more than 8 percent.

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After a period of decreasing crime rates in California, and nationally, over the last 20 years, these latest figures pose some troubling quandaries as law enforcement officials, politicians and other experts struggle to respond.

John Thomas, a GOP consultant based in Los Angeles, believes these crime increases can give Republicans the upper edge in their campaigns for both law enforcement positions and political positions currently held by Democrats.

“This is the Democrats’ Achilles’ heal,” Thomas said on Friday, according to the Sacramento Bee. “They are responsible for the dramatic spike in crime and Republicans must use this in their messaging to make the winning difference.”

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This view also corresponds with the rising crime rates occurring throughout the nation’s largest 56 cities, according to a report issued by the Department of Justice on June 15. The report indicated that the nation’s murder rates across these cities rose by an average of 17 percent in 2015.

The “Ferguson Effect,” as the vilification of police by the Black Lives Matter movement and favorable politicians has been called, has been identified as a critical culprit in the nationwide spike in violent crime.

“We are in the midst of a very abrupt, precipitous and large crime increase,” noted Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who wrote the report. Rosenfeld added that there are “three plausible explanations of the homicide rise: the expansion of urban drug markets, failing imprisonment rates, and the effects of widely publicized and controversial incidents of the use of force by the police against minority citizens.”

California also faces the additional factor of increasing rates of illegal immigration. As the state with the highest number of illegal aliens, approximately 2.4 million undocumented immigrants comprise 6.3 percent of the state’s population, according to a Pew Research Center study released in 2015.

Although there are no complete figures that indicate the percentage of crimes carried out by illegals in California, the surging numbers may add another angle to the complexity of California’s crime problem.

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