Posted on February 16th, 2021 by Zane Cagle
In 2012, St. Louis county and St. Louis city both announced that crime statistics were down overall. In St. Louis city, the overall crime was down by 12 percent! The number of murders was the same as the previous you at 113, but other violent crime was down 4.9 percent according to KMOX. What do you think? Does it seem like crime has decreased in your neighborhood?
Statistics for St. Louis County reported that overall crime dropped 8.7 percent. St. Louis county police said that serious crime has dropped to the lowest level since 1969. Eight homicides were reported in the county, which was down 53 percent. As well, rapes dropped 20.6 percent, and robberies dropped 12 percent.
Both jurisdictions stated that the statistics did not include towns in the county that have their own police.
So, why the drop in violent crime? Criminologists have been looking into the drop in crime rates in the last couple of years. It seems that the economic recession, which increases unemployment, continued layoffs, mounting debt, record foreclosures, and tighter household budgets, tend to create the perfect circumstances for increased crime. According to Ted Kirkpatrick, co-director of Justiceworks, a crime and justice research group at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, tight finances tend to boost property crime and robberies, and financial stress usually produces domestic violence.
Criminologists offer a number of theories to explain decreased crime in the face of recession. Some experts say it is important to remember that crime has been declining in the last decade. In fact, the recession’s short-term effects may have been overwhelmed by the longer-term factors that have produced the long and steady decline in crime.
According to researchers, crime trends depend on many factors besides the economy. Rather, it has more to do with social situations than the economy. They cite the 1960’s as a prime example: the economy was booming, but crime was increasing.
Several factors criminologist give for decreased crime includes the following:
Incarceration: The theory exists that the more incarcerated criminals, the fewer criminals you have on the streets to commit crimes. In the United States, we have reached a critical point where the majority of violent crime offenders are behind bars—according to criminologists.
Policing: Many believe that policing is more proactive. Increased surveillance leads to fewer crimes which force more illicit behavior underground.
Social Programs: Law enforcement has worked with community groups for years to develop programs to keep youth engaged, provide outlets for youth, and combat crime. Some criminologist thinks these efforts may finally be paying off.
Demographics: Young people tend to commit the most crimes, according to statistics, and there simply are not as many young people; they make up a smaller percentage of the population. The median age in the US has reached 36.7 according to a 2010 estimate by the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Facebook, which is up from 35.3 in 2000 and 32.9 in 1990.
Unemployment Benefits: Some theories suggest that the more government support an individual can receive through unemployment benefits, food stamps, controlled rent, and other forms of welfare, the less they may be encouraged to commit financial or stress-motivated crimes.
Fewer Opportunities: Recession may have actually helped stave off property crime, according to criminologists. “During severe recessions like the current one, with chronically high unemployment rates, more people are at home and can act as guardians for their homes, “Mr. Rosenfeld says, ”That leads to a decline in residential burglaries.” Rosenfield is president of the American Society of Criminology and a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Furthermore, people have less cash on hand in their homes and thus making them less attractive targets.
Some criminologists predict that this downward trend is leveling off and predict that crime will go up again.
It will be interesting to see the crime statistics in 10 years when we factor in the effect of widespread technology in regard to surveillance and reporting. Crimes occur all of the time, and the criminals later find that someone was taking their picture or recording their deeds through video for their Facebook page! I have blogged about more than one incident of someone tattling on themselves on social media. Hopefully, technology will have a positive impact on crime.
In the short term, we can be happy that the crime trend is going down. When you read about a shooting in a school or public place seemingly weekly, it is hard not to be pessimistic about crime.
We invite you to share your perception of crime on our blog or our Facebook page!