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Drop in Crime Statistics

January 01, 1994

* For several months now I have observed that your own reports of crimes committed in Los Angeles show a consistent decline from 1992's numbers. Despite this your reporters persist in telling readers that crime is growing, exploding or out of control. Mostly this seemed a curiosity, probably due to indifferent background researches.

However, your article on the latest FBI Crime Index report (Dec. 6) is beyond curious. If one persists in reading to the end of the report, he or she might learn that there has been a substantial reduction in crime. This good news, is, however, apparently so unpalatable to those who make careers out of crime (and I'm not talking about "criminals") that they can't face the possibility that crime is declining.

The FBI director denies his bureau's own reports and suspects underreporting; politicians announce that any decline is not enough; those jockeying for positions for future candidacies warn that the decline is temporary. Worst, your reporter buries the good news behind this barrage of pessimism and nonsense.

Tell people the truth. Both the FBI Index and the Census Bureau survey demonstrate a significant decline in crime and victimization, including violent crime. If these statistics are viewed over a longer run the public would understand that crime is not out of control nor is our present situation that unusual.

In fact, most of the alleged increase in violent crime is the result of legislative re-categorization of domestic violence rather than of any true increase in violent acts.

The crime lobby (law enforcement, politicians, prosecutors, correctional officers and others who make a pretty good living off of crime) will not easily give up the nice sinecure they enjoy. They will fan public hysteria and we will end up going bankrupt out of unfounded fear.

This is nothing new. On Feb. 8, 1775, the Pennsylvania Gazette ran the following:

"Lost is our old simplicity of times,

The world abounds with laws, and teems with crimes."

The author was probably running for city council.


Public Defender

Santa Barbara County

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