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The good and the bad

By DIANE DIMOND

Here’s some positive news from the crime beat: It is reported that, nationwide, robberies, rapes, drug offenses and burglaries are down during the first half of 2020.

This trend is one of the rare good things to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer people have been venturing out the last several months, decreasing the number of robbery targets. Same thing with open-air drug deals and rapes; fewer people were out and about going to bars, nightclubs and other social gatherings. And even stupid criminals know not to try to commit burglary by breaking into a home where family members are hunkered down during the lockdown.

Now for the negative. Homicides and gun violence are on the rise. Murders have spiked in 36 of the 50 biggest American cities that were studied during a newly released Wall Street Journal analysis of crime stats.

On average, the nation’s homicide rate is up 24 percent so far this year compared with the same period in 2019. But in certain cities, the murder rate is much higher. In Chicago, homicides are up 52 percent. In San Antonio, Texas, it’s 34 percent. Phoenix has seen a 32 percent rise in murders, Philadelphia 31 percent and Houston 27 percent. Gang activity is most frequently blamed for the rise, as gang members are also feeling the economic pinch of isolation, and turf wars have ignited, playing out on near-empty street corners. This year’s recent huge jump in gun sales may have also played a part in the rising inner-city death toll.

It is such a shame because the U.S. murder rate had been significantly slowing since the early ’90s.

As for the idea that the escalation in murders is exclusively happening in American cities run by Democrats (such as the cities mentioned above) — baloney! According to The Wall Street Journal, “Homicides are rising at a double-digit rate in most of the big cities run by Republicans, including Miami, San Diego, Omaha, Tulsa, Okla., and Jacksonville, Fla.” And, by the way, the aforementioned San Antonio is led by a mayor who is a member of the Independent Party. Murder is truly a bipartisan problem.

I’m no social scientist, but I’m thinking it’s not just the cabin fever caused by COVID-19 isolation that has caused this increase in gun violence and murders. It seems obvious that the current spate of anything-goes lawlessness and destructive anti-police fervor has added to the idea that illegal, anarchistic behavior won’t be punished. As proof, we see disproportionately few arrests given the growing number of destructive acts of property damage — and, yes, even murders — that have occurred in several states.

It is as if we’re watching a national temper tantrum and no one is taking responsibility to stop it.

Hey, if politicians are going to order law enforcement to stand down and not respond to protests that then turn into riotous rampages, why should anyone be surprised when the homicide toll rises — not just in locations where peaceful protests are hijacked by criminals but in Any City, USA.

If law and order can be so arbitrarily suspended, and citizen eyewitnesses can watch the destruction happen in real time on TV, where does that leave a civilized society? On the precipice of insurrection, I suppose.

Overly cautious or politically correct city leaders, motivated to appease the loudmouthed minority calling for radical change, are ignoring the rule of law that has kept this country together for 244 years. It’s as if elected officials are so bewildered by what’s been occurring that they’ve become paralyzed with indecision about how to restore public safety. Looking away from it is tacit approval.

Hamstrung law enforcement is chomping at the bit to be allowed to do their job and try to restore the peace. Citizens are astonished at what is happening to both their communities and to the idea that we are a country of laws that everyone must follow.

Look, we’ve got to find some semblance of pandemic-era normalcy now. More and more Americans will be venturing out, ending the long quarantine. With more of the population out and about, criminals will surely find more targets.

The clock is ticking. It is time to stop the long national nightmare and put an end to the lawless temper tantrums. They have been allowed to go on far too long.

To find out more about Diane Dimond, visit her website at www.dianedimond.com. Her latest book, “Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box,” is available on Amazon.com.

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