The Trump Effect On Violent Crime
By Stephen Thayer, LELDF Associate
According to FBI statistics, the nationwide, decades long decline in violent crime, to include homicide, reversed itself and increased since 2014. In 2015, there was an increase of almost four percent in violent crime and an 11 percent increase in homicide. In 2016, violent crime jumped another four percent while homicide spiked almost nine percent.
Can the increases in violent crime and homicide be laid at the feet of a president who many think showed himself as anti-cop? And, will President Trump’s vocal support of law enforcement help reverse the trend and be reflected in 2017 crime statistics?
Barack Obama began his very public disparagement of police officers in 2009 with an incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts when a white police officer responded to a 911 call of a burglary in progress. A neighbor had observed someone attempting to gain entry into a home by forcing open the front door.
According to the police report, Sgt. James Crowley arrived at the scene, went up to the front door, and asked the individual who had entered the home to step outside. Crowley explained he was investigating the report of a break-in in progress; as he did so, Harvard professor Henry Gates opened the front door and said, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?"
Crowley asked Gates for a photo ID to verify he was the resident. Gates initially refused, but then supplied his Harvard ID card. Crowley then told Gates he was leaving the residence and that if Gates wanted to continue discussing the matter, he would speak to him outside. Gates replied, "Yeah, I'll speak with your mama outside."
Gates stepped onto his front porch and continued to berate the officer, accusing him of racial bias and warning that he had not heard the last of him. Gates continued to harass the officer and, after being cautioned, was arrested for disorderly conduct.
President Obama, a Gates pal, publicly took the position that the police “acted stupidly” and mentioned there was a long history of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.
Thus began the widely-held view by law enforcement that the Obama administration presumed all law enforcement officers were racist and that when there was a questionable incident, the police must have done something wrong.
Obama reinforced the view in August 2014 when white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager who had attacked the officer in his patrol vehicle and struggled with him for his gun.
At the time, many in Ferguson and across the country embraced the notion of police as racially motivated and welcomed the myth that Brown was shot while surrendering to the officer. The lie of Ferguson, supported by nothing more than rumor, was born and it spread like a virus, giving rise to the “Hands up, don’t shoot” mantra that metastasized into the destructive Black Lives Matter movement.
Obama, ever ready to put his thumb on the scale against police, dispatched three White House representatives to Brown’s funeral, even though video showed him engaged in a convenience store strong-arm robbery and he had attacked a uniformed cop.
There is no doubt that Presidents Obama and Trump have differing views of law enforcement. Obama and the liberals took the political position of demonizing law enforcement and treating offenders as victims in order to motivate his African American base. The cost of that position was a high one, if linked to increases in violent crime and homicide or the increasing ambush and deadly attacks on police in 2016-2017.
Trump, on the other hand, has taken every opportunity to praise the brave men and women of law enforcement. He did so as a candidate and continues to do so as President. He dismisses the notion of all law enforcement officers as racists and insists on personal accountability for those accused of breaking the law.
Both presidents chose attorneys general who mimicked the tone from the Oval Office, with Eric Holder playing into the cops-as-racists theme of his boss and Jeff Sessions flipping that rhetoric for “we have your back” support for police.
Time will tell and pundits will judge which approach serves America better.