Reasons for Crime Essay

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Crime Statistics

The author of this report is to compare and contrast two different areas from a crime rate standpoint. The current rates of crime for different crime types will be assessed as well as the change in those rates from year to year. The two cities that will be compared are New York and Detroit. While there is good and bad news for both of those jurisdictions vis-a-vis their crime rates, the trends for both are noticeably different and the underlying reasons for these variations and trends are not hard to surmise about, although it is hard to be definitive due to the complexity of the cities' respective situations and dynamics. While it is hard to be exhaustive and to make conclusions with certitude, it is clear that the towns are moving in different directions but there are opportunity costs for the good things and downsides to any solution for the bad things.


New York and Detroit are obviously two towns going in different directions, although not entirely and across the board. Both towns have been run for years in large part by mayors and other leaders that are strong proponents of more liberal and public safety net ideas. Both cities spend an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars on the public good and are not afraid to tax the people who live and/or work there. Indeed, most cities and counties around the United States (and even some states) do not have income taxes but both New York and Michigan as a whole are outliers to this and the Detroit and New York City areas in particular drive this point home as well as both areas have a lot of local taxes and other firm regulations in and around the core cities in question.

However, another thing that both cities have had or still have in large part is a large amount of violent crime. New York City made a lot of progress in this regard during the Giuliani years but Detroit is going in the other direction in that regard as well as financially but they are losing ground on many of the crime metrics. Detroit is in the process of filing bankruptcy and their crime rates are in rough shape but they are falling almost across the board. Indeed, one can see this when looking at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime statistics for the two cities. New York went from 227 murders in 2011 to 192 murders in 2012, a fall of more than fifteen percent. Rape rates climbed very slightly by less one percent gut robberies, assaults and violent crimes in general all rose by nearly four percent or at least close to it. When it comes to property crimes, burglaries went up 5.43%, larcenies went up 7.57%, vehicle thefts fell by nearly 10% and property crimes in general rose 6.13%. Some good news there, at least as it relates to murders and car crimes falling and rapes remaining flat, but the other key dimensions all rose. All in all, though, this is not terribly bad for a city of more than eight million people (FBI, 2014).

When looking at Detroit, the news is good and bad depending on what is being focused on. The overall rates are going down across the board but at least part of that (if not most of it) can and should be ascribed to the fact that the town is probably lost more than half of its population. At one point, Detroit was a city of 1.6 million but has since fallen to roughly 700,000 (, 2013). Despite this, the rates of crime per amount of population, even though falling, is sky-high compared to New York City. Despite the fact that Detroit has less than 10% the population of New York City, they have nearly as many murders with Detroit having 170 in 2012 and NYC having 192. If there is a silver lining, the murder rate in Detroit is falling, albeit only by 2.30%. Rape (7.85%) and vehicle theft (3.31%) are both up in Detroit but every other crime rate is down. Robbery is down 8.97%, assaults are down 2.16%, violent crimes in general are down 3.97%, burglary is down 8.76%, larceny is down 4.06% and arsons are down a staggering 34.23%. But again, population loss probably explains at least half (if not most) of those drops because the drops are all in overall amount of crimes and not rate per 100,000 people which is much more telling (FBI, 2014).

Many of the Giuliani crime laws that made him notorious and successful as New York City mayor have been drawn back or eliminated since then. One major tactic of the New York police department that has raised a lot of ire and due process concerns is the "stop and frisk" policy whereby people can be approached on the street and can then be searched if there is reasonable suspicion that something is amiss and/or a person is potentially involved in criminal activity. Detroit is facing much more dire concerns as many crimes, even if reported, go unsolved or even unanswered by police at all and the overall city is in a ridiculous and pathetic state of disrepair and many people leaving because they're in fear of their life or simply just fed up. This has led to falling tax revenues with the richer and more well-off Detroit residents being the ones leaving thus leaving behind people that earn little to no money from regular jobs, let alone pay taxes on said money. Perhaps one of, if not the major, reason for this overall economic swoon in Detroit is the fall from grace of the automotive industry and the fact that Detroit is very much a city that relied entirely too much on that one industry. Indeed, if a city's bread and butter industry goes down in flames, such as they did in both the 1970's and during the recent Great Recession, then people will suffer. Albeit in much different form, the automakers are coming back with Ford doing pretty good and General Motors, even with their recall issues, doing not so bad themselves. However, Chrysler is now partially owned by Italian carmaker Fiat. However, the losses endured by Detroit as a result of the struggles over the decades in addition to some extremely shoddy governing by the ruling politicians over those same years has left a lot of damage. It is often to the point where people say entire portions of Detroit and other nearby areas such as Flint be razed rather than rebuilt due to the lack of people to fill the spaces and the general squalor that exists. Another footnote that can and should be added to Detroit is that poverty and destitution is often seen as a precursor to crime and this is manifested every day by people that rob, steal and/or deal drugs, among other illegal and/or unethical activities such as exotic dancing, prostitution and so on.

New York City is not out of the woods, though. The exodus that is occurring in Detroit is also happening, although at a much lesser rate, in New York. The ostensible reason for this is the rather populist and anti-business sentiment, not to mention an anti-rich sentiment, expressed by many of the people that rule and govern in the greater New York City area. It is to the point that New York is only eclipsed by California in terms of rules and laws that clamp down on the rights and options of businesses and/or the rich and it is causing a massive flight of people and businesses from New York, not to mention California (Malanga, 2014). While the tactics and habits of prior Mayor Giuliani may have been controversial, the urban flight that has occurred en masse in Detroit will probably accelerate in New York City if the crime rates keep edging up. The decline of auto crimes and murder and a lack of rise in rapes is encouraging, but the fact that basically everything else is going up is not a good sign. It could very well be borne of a rising population but if the New York population is falling, the aggregate amount of crimes should be falling as well. The population in the city rose in 2013 but that was the first time in six decades, so that means that the population was falling during the time of the metrics mentioned earlier in this report (Peltz, 2013). It will be interesting to see whether the rates rise more sharply or not in the coming months and years.

Lack of economic opportunity and perhaps an over-simplfication of what is causing people to be poor are probably the aggravating factors that lead to crimes being what they are, at least as it relates to property- and money-related crimes. Murder and rape really comes down to getting violent people off the streets and for good. However, many to most other crimes are caused or encouraged at…[continue]

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