Monday, May 04, 2009

Declining Houston crime doesn't justify politicized rhetoric

Crime in Houston is substantially down, reports the Houston Chronicle's Bradley Olson ("Houston crime is down but not the fear of it," May 4), but demagoguery by media and politicians about crime is on the rise:

In the words of a statistician, the decrease in criminality appears to have an inverse relationship, at least for now, with political rhetoric on crime, which has ramped up in recent months.

“It’s probably very difficult for any politician to acknowledge that the problem of crime is decreasing, because that undermines the importance of the issue,” said Dennis Longmire, a professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State University who has studied public attitudes toward crime. “Politicians use a fear of crime to garner support and get voters’ attention.”

Former Houston police chief and Mayor Lee Brown told the paper, “This always happens ... It becomes a political issue, rather than the reality of what a city is going through. It appears to be as if [the politicians] haven’t looked at what the reality is … The objective is to draw attention to themselves and get voters.”


A.H. Jordan said...

I haven't had the time (nor frankly, the inclination) to research this on a state-wide level, but crime - so far as it's represented by arrests and case filings - is down in my county. I understand the same is true for Dallas Co. Now I read the post re: Harris Co.. Is this a trend? If so, on how large a scale? Any thoughts from the host, or readers?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It could be the economy. Crime was also way down during the Great Depression.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. Trends have shown a decreased amount of violent crime for most of this last decade.

Murders, Rapes, serious assaults, all are down. You can't tell it by watching the news though, to them it is all out of control, at your doorstep, arm your children type stuff. for reference...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I agree with that, 2:47, but I think A.H. was talking about the very short term. Dallas in the last year, for example, has reported jaw dropping crime drops (though achieved in part by redefining "burglaries" and other crimes so they reported fewer of them).

Informed Citizen said...

It took a long time - but we changed Harris County. There is now a new DA, a new Sherrif, and with them the Police Chief has a new attitude.
arrests and case filings do NOT = crime. But they give the APPEARANCE of a high crime rate.
Now the police union and others who profit from the appearance of crime are putting presure on politicians to maintain, or re-establish, their profit base.

Rob said...

The politicians in law and order Texas will certainly seek data that supports there own ambitions. These morons convinced Texans that the world was coming to an end and now
we have 112 prisons bursting at the seams and county jails that rival some states prison systems.

The joke is on US. We are the ones paying for it over and over again. The real data means very little.