Let’s imagine that someone compiles a list of the most dangerous cities in the world based on murder rates arranged in descending order; the list contains 50 cities, all of them with populations of over 200,000. About a quarter of the way down the list, after the appearance of a number of cities all located in Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil, a US city pops up, giving it the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous city in the US with a population of over 200,000. Now imagine we hear that the mayor of that city is going to defund the city’s police department, and the move is supported by the US Representative in whose district the city lies.
Well, we don’t have to imagine it; it’s already happened. According to this article, the city is St. Louis; the mayor is Tishaura Jones; and the US Representative is Cori Bush, the same Cori Bush who tweeted that our country is “racist AF”. Oh, and here’s the actual list of the world’s most dangerous cities; St. Louis comes in at number 13. Mayor Jones is cutting 4 million dollars from the police department’s budget and eliminating 98 currently vacant officer positions. Congresswoman Bush’s take:
Previous administrations spent more per capita on policing than all comparable cities, building a police force that is larger than that of any city comparable to St. Louis.
But even as more and more money has gone into policing the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department continues to be the deadliest police force in the nation, year after year — all while violence in our communities continues to skyrocket.
Bush is confusing correlation with causation; since violence skyrockets as more money goes into policing, putting more money into policing must be what is causing the violence to skyrocket. Ergo, taking money away from policing will reduce the violence!
Let’s look at the actual St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department homicide data for 2020 and see if it provides any clues as to why St. Louis is the most murderous city of over 200,000 in the country. There were a total of 262 homicide victims of whom 236 or 90 percent were black. Since most homicides are committed against victims of the same racial classification, this indicates that we would expect the overwhelming majority of the homicide suspects in these cases to be black as well; and that is also confirmed by the available data: Of the 109 known homicide suspects identifiable by race, 100 or 92 percent were black. A comparable percentage probably obtains for the many unsolved homicides whose suspects went unidentified. Now since blacks make up 45 percent of the population of St. Louis while accounting for 92 percent of known homicide suspects, black offenders are committing over twice as many homicides as would be expected. Is the problem too many police, or is the problem too many black people committing murder?
It turns out that St. Louis isn’t the only US city on the most dangerous list. Baltimore is number 21; New Orleans is number 41; and Detroit is number 42. Baltimore has a black population of 64 percent; New Orleans has a black population of 60 percent; and Detroit has a black population of 78 percent. Why are these cities on the list? Do they have too many police, or do they have too many black people committing murder?