Thursday, October 13, 2016

Crime down, arrests up

A couple weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with our County Attorney, Joe Kelly. We ran into each other before a meeting at the Malone Community Center, and chatted about his perception that felony prosecutions are up this year. I pulled up the most recent data on my smartphone, and indeed felony arrests by LPD are up about 10% so far in 2016. We speculated about what might be cause of this increase.

Afterwards, I put together a chart of the trend since the turn of the century, and compared it side-by-side with the crime trend. It's rather interesting.




Crime in Lincoln has been falling pretty significantly, whereas felony arrests have been increasing--especially in the last four years. This seems a bit counter-intuitive: I would expect that less crime would mean fewer arrests.

These charts begin in 2000, but the patterns for both crimes and felony arrests are more longstanding. These trends actually start back in in 1991. Interestingly, misdemeanor arrests do not show a similar pattern. They have declined slightly between 2000 and 2015, and are down by more than a third from their 2008 peak. I have a working theory on why felony arrests are increasing, but it's going to require some research to put my guess to the test.


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You mean that REPORTED crime is down, not necessarily unreported crime.

Tom Casady said...

11:53,

That's true, but this trend is also evident in the National Criminal Victimization Survey, which is the authoritative measure of crime in the United States that reflects both crime reported to the police, and crime not reported to the police. See, for example, Right on Crime.

Anonymous said...

More felony arrests due to the JTF sweeps with the US Marshals?

Mike James said...

Thank you for this excellent blog post. I have some theories about how this could be
First I thought about what else has changed?
1) New police chief with a call for the street patrol to focus on the big fish and let the little fish go.
2) New PSD with a call for the street patrol to focus on the big fish and let the little fish go.
3) Cuts in Mental health services
4) Changes to prison/ county jails causing increased rates of recidivism. (Cuts in mental health services, high turnover of staff causing reduced quality of treatment of inmates)
5) Better use of technology by police (data analytics, training programs)
6) Criminals using the internet to join together in illegal transactions all while the police can also track the same websites.
7) More properties have CCTV systems to record activity on property
8) Quicker reporting on crimes because everyone has cell phones.
9) Less petty crimes for police to investigate so police can focus on big fish.
10) Higher standard of living, less desperate people trying to get by on stealing car stereos and pawning
11) More accessible activities for today’s youth, which in turn, keeps them out of trouble.
12) Most everyone has internet access now, which keeps them occupied and out of trouble.
13) Internet content consumption has educated people right from wrong.
I would love to see further data analysis on this topic. Is this a national trend too? Regional? Or just local?



HuskerXD said...

I have a set of security cameras I want to set up (I'm in Lincoln city limits). Are there any laws I need to be aware of regarding outside security cameras on a private residence?

Tom Casady said...

National trend. Not sold on 1, 2, 11, and especially13 but all the rest could be factors (I've blogged about many of these before) in delinking crime rates. I'm especially fond of 3, 5, 6,and 8--which I firmly believe. Nobody talks about 8, which I think is a huge factor, and one that started at the same time the crime decrease begins in the early 1990s.

Tom Casady said...

HuskerXD,

To put it simply, no.

Anonymous said...

Everyone wants to make a huge analytical statement... Could it be as simple as... Wait for it. Officers making more arrests, taking bad guys off the streets therefore they are not free to commit more crimes.

Tom Casady said...

7:37,

Maybe there is a small influence, but I think any cop in the U.S. could tell you that very few of these arrestees spend any significant time behind bars. See, for example, this post, or this one, or this one.

Tom Casady said...

7:37,

Oh, and by the way: I think this has gotten even worse since those stories 8 or 9 years ago--not better.

Anonymous said...

You know those recent BB gun vandalisms? The map has a big dead spot in it in the area NW of Holmes Park. Maybe one of them lives in that area. I know I'm not saying anything slick to a can of oil, but you know who lives in that area? The molotov cocktail guy from last year, DWW, who was wrist-slapped with probation for those arsons. Spree vandalism, the leopard rarely changes their spots. He also went to ground on those arsons as soon as a description of his vehicle (white Dodge Neon, in that case) was made public; he put a cover on it.