Here’s proof that almost every gray cloud has a silver lining.
Philadelphia Police Department statistics show that during the first week of restricted movement in the city, crime was down.
In an unrelated development, no NBA games were played. That’s another causal effect.
A study of city stats by The Inquirer showed that crime was down by as much as 25% “compared with the average week over last year.”
Why the “average week,” rather than the same week? I don’t know. Typically comparisons are made of same to same, but let’s not quibble. It is good news for Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, but for how long? The stats don’t tell the whole story.
Before drilling down into the numbers, let me remind you of an adage every cop, everywhere, knows: “Rain is the policeman’s best friend.” Also blizzards.
Fewer people on the street, fewer targets of opportunity.
It’s simple really, and in the first week of the lockdown there were fewer people on the street, thus fewer targets for armed robbery, pickpocketing, rape, assault and murder.
More people were in their homes, reducing the chance of burglary, which typically happens during the day when people are at work.
Retail stores typically are robbed during the day when a clerk is there to open the cash drawer. Those robberies won’t happen when the stores are closed, although some thieves may shift to burglaries.
Not all crime dropped, The Inquirer reported. Car theft doubled to the highest level seen in a decade, and shootings ticked up, but not in a major way. The Northeast experienced a great increase of car theft.
Most of the shootings in the city are done by young black males in their 20s and they may not be observing social distance. Most victims are also young black males in their 20s.
We have known this for decades and yet the city has never organized a continuing program to deal with the source of the crime. The facts are evident.
Other crime was down,The Inquirer reports: narcotic sales, -70%, rape, -60%, aggravated assault without a firearm -35%, other assaults -26%, residential burglary -33%. I have previously explained why.
Yet people walking their dogs after dusk do not feel safe. It somehow feels the only other people on the street are the loonies and the criminals. There’s little auto traffic to create a feeling of eyes on you in Center City, where I live, and you never see a squad car.
Keep in mind these stats are just the first week, and the background has cops — because of the coronavirus contamination issue — ordered to not take into custody so-called “low-level” criminals while the city is exploring releasing so-called “non-violent” prisoners so if they get sick, treating them will be someone else’s problem.
Emptying jails has long been a major goal of Mayor Jim Kenney and D.A. Larry Krasner who seem to share a belief that no one has ever been rightfully incarcerated. As former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”
When the equation puts more criminals on the street, with less enforcement, the invariable result will be more crime.