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Giving Compass' Take:
• Research shows that in cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, there has been a decrease in crime reports.
• Researchers suggest this drop is due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders that are keeping people indoors and not committing as many crimes. How might this help urban centers to make long-term progress on crime once the impact of the pandemic slows?
• Read about what donors can do to address coronavirus.
Street cops and police union officials have been predicting a crime wave as cities across the country reduce low-level arrests and release inmates from jails to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But at least in some big cities, that’s not happening. In fact, in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco, recent data show big drops in crime reports, week over week. The declines are even more significant when we compare this year with the same time periods in the three previous years.
The decreases suggest that trying to contain COVID-19 is not a public safety threat in some big cities—at least for now.
Experts say the sudden crime decline is probably tied to the growing number of stay-at-home orders, which have been issued in more than 20 states and now cover a majority of Americans.
“So many people are sheltering in place, crimes of opportunities are dropping,” John MacDonald, a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “There are fewer potential victims out there.” He cautioned against reading too much into the data, describing the drop in incidents as “episodic” rather than a long-term trend.
“This has put a calm on the violence—it’s amazing what is not happening right now,” said Charles Perry, who became a community organizer after serving time in prison and now works with the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office to counsel young gang members.
But people in Chicago are still shooting each other. The Marshall Project found that the number of shootings dropped by 50 percent over a four day-period last week compared to the week before. Then on Wednesday, the Chicago Sun Times reported that shootings were rising again; 12 people were shot in one day alone.
Read the full article about coronavirus impact on crime by Simone Weichselbaum and Weihua Li at The Marshall Project.