Murder rates rising across America

There can be short-term wild swings, like the stock market

(CNN) – Cities across this country are seeing a sharp spike in murders.

Some believe it’s being caused by police pulling back after public outrage over the recent police shootings of unarmed men. But some say the rise has nothing to do with police tactics.

CNN hitched a ride with the NOPD, looking for trouble. In New Orleans, the blood spattered bad old days are making a comeback. Here, two men are gunned down, murdered.

(Martin Savidge/Reporting) “So we know that murder’s gone up this year. Why…?”

(Commander Chris Goodley, NOPD) “If I had a magic answer, I would probably be a wealthy man…”

While violent crime overall has dipped, in the last year, homicides in the Big Easy have jumped almost 30%, from historic lows.

But it’s not just New Orleans. In Atlanta, murders are up 12% over last year. Chicago is up 20%. Dallas up 23%. In the nation’s capital, homicides are up 43%.

Goodley, an 18-year police veteran blames it on too many kids, with too many guns with too little hope. “We got a lot of, you know, youth that just don’t know how to handle aggression.”

But could something else be to blame.

Some suggest police have become less aggressive and less visible in high crime areas in the aftermath of public outrage following the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. Cities near or where those incidents happened have seen a huge jump in homicide rates from last year.

Ferguson’s neighbor, St. Louis, is seeing homicides up nearly 58%, and Baltimore saw murders there jump up 56% over last year.

Speaking in disguise to Brooke Baldwin, one Baltimore officer seems to admit cops have backed off, implying the public is getting what it asked for. “I think the public really, really sees that, the actually softer, less aggressive police department, and we’ve given that and now they’re realizing their way of thinking does not work.”

(Martin Savidge/Reporting) “You don’t buy this theory that cops are backing off because of a public backlash…

(Cedric Alexander/President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policy) “No I don’t”

Cedric Alexander is a 38-year law enforcement veteran and a member of President Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing. “In terms of a work slowdown, in terms of not taking calls or only respond to 9-1-1 calls, that is not what is happening across this country.”

He points to other big cities such as Phoenix and Los Angeles, where homicide rates are actually slightly down from a year ago.

Harold Pollack from the University of Chicago Crime Lab told CNN, “I don’t think anyone really has a handle on it.”

Those who research crime say homicide rates can be a lot like the stock market. There can be short-term wild swings, and you don’t always know why. Pollack says, ” I think there are many stories that people tell that are really not backed up by evidence right now.”

Experts say we are still a lot safer than we were 15 or 20 years ago. As for this summer’s spike in homicides, it’s a real murder mystery.

Copyright 2015 CNN

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