The Washington Post ran a story last week about the mysterious case of the shrinking crime rate, a live-action drama going on in cities across America. Not all cities, mind you, but more than halfway through the year, a number of big cities are seeing drops in homicides and other serious crimes that they really can't explain. Some that have seen a significant decline in crime include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Boston, and Minneapolis.
How about for juveniles? Does the trend continue? We asked the aforementioned six cities how many juveniles had been arrested for homicide thus far in 2009, and how many had been arrested in 2008. That isn't exactly a great barometer for all juvenile crime, but we knew that would be the easiest to get.
Minneapolis, Boston and New York were not responsive to our request. The latter two cities gave us the same plea for empathy: we get a lot of requests, we take them one at a time. Sorry, not buying it.
Here's a crazy idea: Have basic arrest stats available on your website! Then you won't have to "process" a request for four numbers that will take your statistician about five minutes to complete. You wouldn't have as many requests if the numbers were updated each week or month.
If they ever get back to us with numbers, we will update this piece. Here are figures for the other three, which by the way got back to us within 24 hours:
Clearly, San Francisco doesn't have a juvenile homicide situation to speak of. But in the other two cities, both are less than 50 percent of their 2008 totals with five months left in the year. Washington, JJ Today's home city, has only a quarter of the juvenile homicide arrests it had last year, so the city has a chance to finish with half of the 2008 total.
We know that next month will be the biggest remaining test here; last one before school starts.