By Tiasia Saunders
Howard University News Service
Violent crime rates have been increasing, especially in places such as New York and Washington, D.C. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association’s Midyear Violent Crime Survey, there have been nearly 10,000 more crimes of robbery and aggravated assault in the first six months of 2022 than there were in the same period during 2021.
“Researchers, journalists and law enforcement officials have blamed the rise on several factors,” said Elsie Scott, Ph.D., director of the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University and adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science. “The proliferation of guns in the U.S., the easy access to guns by young people, the lack of gun control legislation in many states, the economy and hatred” are prominent factors, Scott explains.
“Republican candidates are blaming Democratic mayors, but it is not clear what the Republicans will do differently if elected,” she adds.
In New York, several people have been hospitalized or died after being brutally beaten in an onslaught of random subway attacks.
Another crime that has concerned citizens is the recent home invasion in which an intruder used a hammer to attack Paul Pelosi, husband of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The Howard community is concerned as well.
“About a month ago was the first time I had an experience where I felt unsafe at night,” said Emma Theodule, a senior finance major who splits her time between New York and Washington. “I was alone and had to walk to the bus stop for 13 minutes. I didn’t feel safe because it was dark and quiet, and I had to pass three men while walking.”
These attacks have left citizens wondering how the winners of the midterm elections will prevent such crimes from continuing.
“Accountability is the main tenet of combating violent crime,” said Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “Bail reform, lack of prosecution, and violent and repeat offenders cycling through the justice system are issues that need to be addressed.”
“Injecting more transparency into the criminal justice system would also help shed needed light, and every impacted community deserves that transparency,” Cooper said. “Understanding that crime is a top issue for voters, elected officials are expected to represent their communities and address the voters’ needs. That is why elections at every level of government are incredibly important.”
With both chambers of Congress and several governorships on the line in the midterm elections, opposing parties offer different solutions to prevent crime in the country. The close gubernatorial race between incumbent Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul and challenger Republican Lee Zeldin in New York is a good example.
Hochul, who has led New York for a year, announced $50 million in funding for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services in September to invest in new technologies for law enforcement. Zeldin accuses Hochul of doing nothing to prevent crime in the state and opposes the 2019 law that allows cash bail for only serious misdemeanors and felonies.
Scott is skeptical of the relationship between elections and crimes. “I do not think there is a direct correlation between the elections and the crime rates,” she said. “There are candidates and interest groups that want to use the crime rates to promote their agenda and their elections.”
Tiasia Saunders is a reporter for HUNewsService.com