BTBuzz: Big city homicide rate climbs; reason unclear


The latest national stats on violent crime paint a darkening picture in some of the nation’s biggest cities – and at least a few experts are having difficulty explaining why.

Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas saw a spike in homicides during the first three months of 2016 – and violent crimes also rose in those cities in 2015, according to a report in Monday’s Washington Post.

“I was very worried about it last fall, and I am in many ways more worried, because the numbers are not only going up, they’re continuing to go up in most of those cities faster than they were going up last year,” FBI Director James B. Comey, who got an early look at the numbers, told the newspaper last week. “Something is happening.”

But what that “something” is remains unclear.

Violent crime is still near historic lows nationally, in California and in Orange County.

But crime is also up in the region.

Overall crime was up 23 percent in Orange County last year, the largest single-year jump in at least a decade, according to the Orange County Register. Some local police leaders pointed to new state laws, such as Prop 47, which reduced some felony offenses to misdemeanors.

“We have noticed in Garden Grove that violent crime such as shootings and robberies are up but property crimes are rising extremely high with a 55% increase in burglaries and 37% in auto thefts,” Lt. Robert Bogue told Monday.  “I believe there is a direct correlation between the prison release program and Prop 47.  It seems that society views are changing rapidly especially in the public view of drug use and prison overcrowding. Law enforcement is at a tipping point where it is inevitable that crime is going up, and I am not sure we are ready to deal with the changes.”

Speaking of drug use, the Orange County Register reported Monday that fatal overdoses reached a 10- year high – with at least 400 deaths last year.