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Rahm Emanuel Out of Excuses for Chicago’s Murder Rate

This has all been very embarrassing for Mayor Emanuel. What has made it even worse is that the murder statistics have become a big national story. While New York City achieved the lowest murder total in 50 years in 2012, Chicago had 16% more murders than the year before. Why is Chicago becoming more dangerous while the other cities with which it competes for jobs, tourists, and investments are becoming less so?

In an appallingly terrible article in the New York Times, Monica Davey makes clear she thinks the real issue is not how many murders occur in Chicago, nor whether the murder rate is increasing, nor how the city’s murder rate compares to that of other cities. Rather, the key issue for her is that murders are not evenly distributed within the city.

That is just not fair in her book. Largely white neighborhoods on the white side are described as “Eden-like” as far as safety. Anyone who lives in the city on the north side, as I do, would find that remark comical. The reality is that when the murder rate drops in major cities, the people who benefit the most are minority group members, since they are the ones most often murdered in these cities.

The more than 1,800 fewer murders in New York (comparing the numbers for 1990 and 2012) likely means that more than 1,500  black and Hispanic residents of the city were not murdered in 2012 due to the much lower murder rate. It is likely the case that at least 30,000 residents of New York City today are alive rather than dead due to the cumulative effect over that period of the sharply declining murder rate.

If the New York Times’ primary concern is that there are more blacks and Hispanics murdered than whites in Chicago, then the best solution is to reduce the city’s murder rate. There will still be more blacks and Hispanics murdered than whites. But if the total  murders in Chicago were 137 in a year (the New York City murder rate, in effect) or even double that at 274, it would make a huge difference, even in the comparative numbers of murdered residents segmented by racial or ethnic group.