Why Violent Crime Increased

Connecticut Police


To the tens of thousands of victims of increasing violent crime, telling them that, statistically, they have never lived in safer times seems uncouth and disrespectful.

Lacking social indicators as to poverty or jobs (unemployment is currently at an all-time low), the only explanation for the rise in violent crime is the morale of cops and other justice system employees who are less aggressive in their jobs.


Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.


From The Crime Report: FBI Reports Violent Crime Surge, But What Does It Mean?

Rising violence in the US for 2015 and 2016 is well documented by the FBI and Gallup, Crime in America. Fear of crime (per Gallup) is also at an all-time high.

Newspaper headline: U.S. sees biggest single-year jump in violent crime in 25 years.

A 20 percent increase in homicides over the past two years is not trivial. We’ve got what looks like a serious problem here.” New York Times

But when you read the latest edition from the Marshall Project and the Brennan Center (both one-sided advocacy projects), there are endless excuses and rationalizations as to how a twenty percent rise in homicides over the last two years is meaningless.


Why is it difficult to be honest when it comes to violent crime?

Has advocacy made it impossible to have an authentic conversation about crime?

Personal Note

I did not vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton, and I have no connections to the Trump presidency or organizations supporting him. I’m still evaluating my support for the President.

But I suspect that advocacy groups feel the need to refute anything that supports the President’s statements or anti-crime agenda.

But Why Distort Hard Data?

With hard data from the FBI and Gallup as to crime and fear of crime, why deny the obvious?

Look, I understand that the President’s anti-crime agenda is not supportive of The Brennan Center and endless advocacy organizations, but are purposeful distortions of hard data even close to being ethical?

Calls for sentencing reform or programs for offenders (I support both) remain necessary regardless of the data. The criminal justice system has limits; we can’t be all things to all people. Improvements in the application of justice are necessary, especially in law enforcement. We simply need to do better.

Yes, we had an almost continuous decrease in violent crime before violence flattened in 2014 and rose by substantial amounts in 2015 and 2016 per the FBI.

But to the tens of thousands of victims of increasing violent crime, telling them that, statistically, they have never lived in safer times seems uncouth and disrespectful.

Advocates Respond to Increasing Crime

The new data shows crime remains near all-time lows across the country,” said Ronal Serpas, chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders ….

False narratives about a national crime wave will not help,” Serpas said. “They make it harder for law enforcement to implement proven tactics that address the real issues, instead of the myths.

But Law Enforcement Leaders “…is a project of the Brennan Center,” (but they don’t acknowledge that link) thus recognizing that the public doesn’t trust advocates, but they will listen to law enforcement “experts,” see Crime in America.

…the Brennan Center’s Justice Program said in a statement. “Crime remains near historic lows, with an uptick in murder and violence driven in part by problems in some of our nation’s largest cities,” The Crime Report.

So Who Is Right?

Google it. Don’t take my word or the statements of biased advocacy organizations trying to downplay violent crime.

Search “rising violent crime,” or “violent crime increases” or “violent crime,” and judge for yourself what local media sources are saying as to what’s happening in their cities or states.

The last time I searched, there were hundreds of articles documenting increasing violent crime in cities and states. Obviously, not all cited increases, there is a mix of results, but most did. See Crime in America for examples.

So Why The Increase?

First, no one can say precisely why, in the same way no one can explain the twenty years of almost continuous crime reductions that preceded recent increases.

Some suggest that rising crime is due to increases in cities (i.e., Chicago, Baltimore) thus implying that escalation is not national. Statistically, they may be correct, but rising crime and fear of crime is a national problem with profound implications.

But it’s my opinion (backed by data) that cops are holding back and not being nearly as aggressive as they once were.

For decades the criminological community suggested that law enforcement tactics were almost meaningless as to controlling crime. But then we had Ferguson and Baltimore where cops were harshly accused with endless wrongdoings (and charged with murder).

Investigations proved no wrongdoing, there were no convictions, but outraged cops throughout the nation decided to back off levels of aggressiveness, and violent crime increased, Crime in America.

But once again, this narrative doesn’t fit the agenda of biased advocacy organizations, who often see cops as brutal thugs, unworthy of consideration.

Cops (and correctional officers-parole and probation agents) are demoralized to the point that retaining existing officers and getting new recruits is becoming impossible.

Families are insisting that cops leave, and exit as soon as possible. In the meantime, officers are simply laying low until they figure out what this all means.

Negativity Has An Impact

72% say officers in their department are now less willing to stop and question suspicious persons.

Overall, more than eight-in-ten (86%) say police work is harder today as a result of high-profile, negative incidents, Crime in America-Policing

Final Analysis

Lacking social indicators as to poverty or jobs (unemployment is currently at an all-time low), the only explanation for the rise in violent crime is the morale of cops and other justice system employees who are less aggressive in their jobs.

Some point out an unwillingness of communities to engage law enforcement because of distrust, but those conditions existed when crime was at record lows.

Violent crime has immense implications for cities, states, and the country. Ignoring or rationalizing recent increases is journalistically, fundamentally and morally wrong.

It’s time to re-energize discussions with affected communities as to what they want and need from law enforcement, see Crime in America. It’s also time to understand that the endless abuse or stereotypes of 900,000 cops is not in society’s best interest.

Protest is a constitutional right, but discrimination is simply counterproductive.


Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net

Contact us at crimeinamerica@gmail.com.

Media on deadline, use leonardsipes@gmail.com.

My book: “Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization,” is available at Amazon at https://amzn.com/151948965X

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  1. Alan Davis says:

    There is much I agree with in your narrative, especially your worthwhile effort to expose real reasons for the current increases in violent crime.
    Your observation that police laxity is ” the only explanation for the rise in violent crime” however, seem to reflect the same one sided posture you accuse (listed) advocacy groups. Yes, there is a national increase in violent crime, and yes, some of our major jurisdictions reflect a large portion of that increase. If these are the facts as you state them, why downplay equally legitimate evidence from the “criminologistical community” (criminologists, sociologist, and justice sector experts) that examine perspectives and rationales from those most affected by crime- the community?
    Law enforcement’s narrow focus on proposing its own mandate alone, and refusal to accept alternate strategies focused on shared authority and responsibility for answers do nothing to bridge gaps in perspectives, or in reducing violent crime. Neither hammer nor olive branch alone are the answer. Both are required for the effective administration of a justice reality most of us want to live by. When we are willing to agree on who gets to decide how best to utilize all options for our mutual benefit, and whether L/E and communities must abide by its mandate, speak loudly to your proposition that police choose to underperform due to unfavorable (and admittedly challenging) conditions of public sentiment. Neither path will succeed until we come to terms with our mutual dependence, but diversified needs base for answers.

    • Hi Alan: That was a great response. As to finding a mutual ground, see https://www.crimeinamerica.net/2017/10/04/whos-right-on-crime/.

      I focused on police laxity because all other variables were in place when crime was decreasing. The only unique “event” was officers holding back (Pew).

      But I will be the first to admit that I do not have “the” answer. As I stated in my article on rising crime, “First, no one can say precisely why, in the same way no one can explain the twenty years of almost continuous crime reductions that preceded recent increases.”

      I do accuse advocacy groups of distortions and disrespect of victims. We debated these issues throughout my close to 50 years in the criminal justice system, and I just don’t see a lot of public support for their views.

      But I will also admit that law enforcement doesn’t have the answers either (although the public trusts them much more than the advocacy community).

      As I state in the cited article, it’s time for all of us who care about the devastating impact of crime to come together and have respectful conversations. Cops aren’t the enemy. The criminological community has much to offer.

      We need to trust each other. That trust can be fostered when the advocacy community begins to back off its rhetoric and rethink some of its positions (i.e., a 50 percent reduction in the prison population). I sometimes believe that they have no idea as to the damage they are doing to themselves (i.e., victims have no right to complain because they have never lived in safer times).

      I do support sentencing reform, programs for offenders, voting rights, efforts to end offender employment discrimination, and much more that coincides with a progressive agenda. But I also recognize that cops are the trusted (Gallup) front line and I believe that they are under massive strain (public opinion-resignations-problems with recruitment). The level of criticism from the advocacy community is counterproductive.

      At what point do we run out of cops, or at what point do we run out of qualified people who want to be cops? And at what point does disengagement have an impact on the community’s well being?

      Best, Len.

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