Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 30, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LA STORY....The LA Times reports that Los Angeles has experienced a huge drop in homicides this year:

The drop comes nine months after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton vowed to crack down on gangs. But though previous anti-gang campaigns have involved mass arrests and high-profile sweeps, this effort has been more targeted.

And in its most radical shift, the LAPD is putting aside decades of suspicion and turning for help to gang intervention workers, many of whom were gang members.

....Overall, Los Angeles has recorded [289] homicides so far this year, with Bratton saying he believes the city will end the year with the lowest number of killings in 37 years (in 1970, there were 394 homicides). Authorities believe the help of gang intervention workers has made a difference, but they acknowledge that they can't fully explain the drop.

Yes, this is the same William Bratton who was fired by Rudy Giuliani for reducing crime in New York City and then having the gall to take a share of the credit for it. Quite a guy, our Rudy.

Kevin Drum 4:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Comments

I'm surprised that the Manhattan Mussolini hasn't sought credit for personally facilitating William Bratton's appointment as LAPD Chief.

No doubt the Los Angeles Times would ignore such a claim if ever made, preferring to focus instead on how the looming spectre of Hillary Clinton scares red-state Democratic voters in the West -- so much so that they would rather vote for a former New York City mayor who thought it a good idea to appoint the Mobbed-up Bernie Kerik as his police commissioner.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 30, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Surely it's not possible to reduce crime without bombing some brown people. What kind of lefty socialist commie is this Bratton character, anyway?

Posted by: craigie on September 30, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Come on. He wasn't fired for being good at his job. He was fired for getting credit for doing his job, and for reducing crime without heightening racial tensions.

Hmm... on second thought... I guess he was fired for doing his job well.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on September 30, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

ah, more evidence that Rudy is a typical conservative Republican--he doesn't want to support competent government.

Posted by: PTate (back in MN, sigh) on September 30, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

With the "outing" of Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham looming, and Rep. Patrick McHenry about to be tied to a gay murder, the GOP is scrambling just to hold on to a 30% approval rate and avoid a RICO indictment. This political party is circling the drain, and if the best they can come up with as a national candidate is Rudy the Combover, they are truly in a world of hurt!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 30, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Hold on!!! Hold the presses!!! Did Kevin Drum just link to a story with good news?!? But how could that happen if George W. Bush is President?! Obviously, George W. Bush maybe isn't so bad after all.

Oh, what? Kevin doesn't give any credit to President Bush in his post? Hmmm, color me not surprised.

Posted by: egbert on September 30, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. Rudy is a poopiehead.

Posted by: Osama Von Mcintyre on September 30, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

But his latest wife loves RUDY! because of 9-11!!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 30, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

egbert, go play with yourself somewhere else. Idiot.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, no one can be allowed to share the spotlight with the Mayor of 9/11, least of whom a competent leader like Bratton..

Posted by: Andy on September 30, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

.
Bad news for the Prison Industrial Complex and Fear Mongers Everywhere .
.

Posted by: mmckinl on September 30, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

It was the military commissions, and the warrantless searches, and the indefinite detention without trial.

Wait, no it wasn't.

Posted by: Da on September 30, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Doh, Egbert - why aren't you in Iraq? THAT would be good news.

Posted by: sidney G Lister on September 30, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

A policy of infiltration only works once you've softened the enemy up. That is why it will work now in LA when it would have been premature in NY.

And I expect that we will soon see infiltration of our enemy in Iraq now that the surge has softened up Al Qaeda.

Posted by: Al on September 30, 2007 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Not to diminish that value of good police work but the elimination of leaded gasoline quite probably also plays a signficant role in the drop in murders.
(http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_07/011648.php)

Posted by: rk on September 30, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on September 30, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

egbert:

"Obviously, George W. Bush maybe isn't so bad after all."

If you mean he hasn't been able to destroy everything good in the country, only 90%, then yes, I agree.

al,

"A policy of infiltration only works once you've softened the enemy up. That is why it will work now in LA when it would have been premature in NY.

And I expect that we will soon see infiltration of our enemy in Iraq now that the surge has softened up Al Qaeda."

Alas, most of the infiltration over there is the Shiite extremists infiltrating the Iraqi government, including the military and the police. So if you are saying that infiltration sets the stage for victory, then Islamic extremists, who are on the wrong side in the war on terrorism, are ready to win.

Posted by: bobo the chimp on September 30, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'd heard about the lead and legalized abortion tie-ins, but these reductions in crime do seem to follow Bratton around. First Boston, then New York, now LA. It's possible he's just a very lucky guy, but if it really is methods and management that he brings with him, he is doing an enormous amount of good -- think of all the people not murdered, other crimes, not committed, and (relatively) young people diverted from committing serious crimes and doing serious time in jail. Pretty damn cool.

Posted by: dr2chase on September 30, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Obviously, George W. Bush maybe isn't so bad after all."

There's one good thing to be found SOMEWHERE in the UD during his term, so he's better than we thought. Nice of you to show us your standards egbert.

Posted by: textivore on September 30, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

rudy is a great guy — when he's on his meds.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 30, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

If Rudy wins in '08 there will be an asterisk everafter:

* Performance enhanced by political steroids (PEPS).

Posted by: bobbyp on September 30, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if the Cranky Christians actually carry out their threat and take their ball and go found a third political party, there will be at least one good thing we can attribute to Rudy....

Posted by: grumpy realist on September 30, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

In the late eighties and the nineties I worked with a number of community groups in New York that were involved with the police during what was then the height of the crack epidemic. I was impressed with Bratton at the time, and also with the people under him. I'm not saying they were perfect, or that Bill Bratton all by his lonesome snuffed out crime in New York. But I did feel that Bratton cared about doing things differently, and made a serious effort at it. There's an old saying that there's no limit to what you can achieve if you don't care who gets the credit for it. Sadly Rudy never saw things that way, and as soon as things started to change for the better Bratton's days were numbered. I hope he can make a positive impact in LA. They can use it.

Posted by: AndrewBW on September 30, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Are you sure it wasn't the tacos?

Posted by: james on September 30, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'd heard about the lead and legalized abortion tie-ins, but these reductions in crime do seem to follow Bratton around. First Boston, then New York, now LA.

So what are the odds against chance explaining it? Is that measurable, or are there too many variables affecting dramatic drops in crime rate for a statement like that to have any meaning as to a single police chief's showing up preceding dramatic drops in crime in three big cities?

Dr2chase, I think it is pretty cool. Think of all the law-and-order, racist conservatives out there not making nearly as big a difference in what they do as what this guy has done. This guy really makes the world a better place; all the conservatives who "throw their feces" at us all day just bitch about what they think, but don't know, would make things better, and what they actualy do maybe makes things worse.

Posted by: Swan on September 30, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is great news, but LA has still got a really long way to go to get down to the levels of other Western countries.

There were 301 homicides, total, in Australia in 2005. That's a country of 21 million people. In England and Wales combined (total population combined roughly 53 million), there were about 750.

LA's 289 murders are out of a population of around about 3.6 million people.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on October 1, 2007 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

3.6 million? More like 8 million. Or are you only counting the celebrities?

Posted by: craigie on October 1, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Depends on what you include in "LA" - Los Angeles proper, or the Greater LA metropolitan area. As I understand it (I don't even live on the same continent) Bratton's only responsible for policing in LA proper.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on October 1, 2007 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Rudy was a unitary mayor. Neo-cons are way big on unitary. Unitary is the answer to all the big problems for the neo-cons.

Posted by: zed on October 1, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Why isn't Bush Co. in jail yet?

Posted by: dennis d' menace on October 1, 2007 at 3:33 AM | PERMALINK

England and Wales combined (total population combined roughly 53 million), there were about 750.

All true but you judiciously exclude Scotland, in particular Glasgow whose murder rate is on par with Washington's (a fact I was kinda shocked to note; we always think you guys are way ahead in this area). And Buenaventura, Columbia's where Rudy would have to be mayor if he really wanted to prove his mettle.

A hodgepodge of rates from a hodgepodge of years from a hodgepodge of sources:

Buenaventura, Columbia: 144 (2006)
Glasgow, Scotland: 58.7 (2002)
Baltimore: 42.0 (2005)
Moscow: 18.2 (1999)
Edinburgh, Scotland: 15.6 (2002)
Sao Paulo, Brazil: 15 (2005)
Los Angeles: 12.6 (2005)
New York: 6.6 (2005)
Paris, France: 3.3 (late 1990's)
London, U.K.: 3.1 (2005)
Singapore: 2.1 (1988)
Montreal, Canada: 1.3 (2005)
Sydney, Australia: 1.2 (2005)
Tokyo: 1.1 (2001)

Actually, LA doesn't look too bad at all.

Posted by: snicker-snack on October 1, 2007 at 4:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Oh, what? Kevin doesn't give any credit to President Bush in his post? Hmmm, color me not surprised."

eggy- Are you honestly suggesting that the President of the United States should get credit for a drop in homicides in Los Angeles when homicides are up nation wide?

What credit would you have Kevin give him?

'Bravo Mr. President for showing us how tax cuts and preemptive invasions really are the way to solve crime in major American cities. Won't you please cut taxes further and invade Iran so all the others will start seeing a drop in homicide, too?'

Now if the article had shown that wiretapping Los Angelenos' phones without getting a warrant first had been the tactic used by the LAPD here, you might have a case for crediting Bush.

Idjit.

Posted by: ej on October 1, 2007 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack, not that I doubt the figures you've provided about various city murder rates (they sound pretty accurate), but I would like to know your source(s). I'd be intrigued to note other info about other crime rates (i.e., property) in the nation and world. Thanks.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on October 1, 2007 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin. I know it is your blog, but I hope you at least mention Seymour Hersch's most recent work.

Such as Hersch’s interview with Der Spiegel here, wherein he points out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has very little real power, and probably doesn’t even control the nuclear program.

Or perhaps the article Hersch wrote for the New Yorker recently about Iran here, where he asserts Bush will still bomb Iran but will insist it is a counterterrorism measure, under the ever-popular rubric of “9-11”, instead of a strike against their nuclear facilities.

I’m just sayin’….

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on October 1, 2007 at 6:29 AM | PERMALINK

Donald, the U.S. figures are culled from F.B.I. reports, Canada's from Statscan. I can't remember where I got the other figures - for the most part I tried goverment sources though I recall having difficulty with both Singapore and Paris, two cities I was curious about (hence the older stats)... It was something I put together quickly a couple of months ago to rebut an acquaintance who was telling me in brook-no-argument terms that the murder rate in Toronto was approaching that of U.S. cities and just something I happened to have saved (Toronto's rate btw is 2.1).

Posted by: snicker-snack on October 1, 2007 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, I forgot to add that Honolulu is by far the most peaceable large American city. With a murder rate of only 1.7 it's almost in a category by itself. Not so much work for Dano.

Posted by: snicker-snack on October 1, 2007 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

What's with all those murderous Scots? What's got them so bloodthirsty?

Posted by: shortstop on October 1, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

What's with all those murderous Scots? What's got them so bloodthirsty?

It's a toss up. It's either soccer, or golf. Any numbers on deaths by bludgeoning with a golf club?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on October 1, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

What's with all those murderous Scots? What's got them so bloodthirsty?

It's a toss up. It's either soccer, or golf. Any numbers on deaths by bludgeoning with a golf club?

I dunno, have you been to Glasgow in the winter? homicide is almost an act of kindness.

Posted by: northzax on October 1, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK
...LA doesn't look too bad at all. snicker-snack at 4:43 AM
Not to me since I'm stuck on a murder trial jury in downtown LA and have been for the past couple of weeks. Posted by: Mike on October 1, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

What's with all those murderous Scots? What's got them so bloodthirsty?

Maybe the murder-rate is explained by asshole English guys going to Scotland and attacking and murdering Scottish girls, or something like that.

Posted by: Swan on October 1, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

London, with a total population of about 7 million, had a total number of homicides at 31 in 2005 and 61 in 2006, a rise that prompted wild talk of in the press of London as the "murder capital of the world" and overtaking American cities as a centre of violence. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has apparently had 289 homicides this year, which is supposedly a huge drop, and New York is said to be the safest large city in the US, with a murder rate of 6.9 per ten thousand - compared to London's figure of 2.4 per ten thousand. How can such contrasts be explained when in London, the police do not carry guns, and in the UK there is no capital punishment and no constitutional right for citizens to own firearms?

Posted by: Mike on October 1, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the murder-rate is explained by asshole English guys going to Scotland and attacking and murdering Scottish girls, or something like that.

Yeah, maybe, Swan. By the way, were you dropped on your head as a baby?

Posted by: shortstop on October 1, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

actually, the murder rate peaked in 1990. ray kelly was commisioner, but he worked for dinkins, who miraculously caused a 12-year crime wave in his 4-year term, which began in 1990.

oh, but kelly was subsequently hired by bloomberg, so i guess he's ok.

Posted by: benjoya on October 1, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

"murderous Scots"

Well, I don't believe that it was a particularly sharp idea to have English anti-bomb squads walk around Kilt Bars with their upturned under carriage mirrors.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on October 1, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ok Glasgow does have a high murder rate if you only account for the city limits...an artificial boundary that includes approx 0.5 million people. However, if you take the whole metropolitan area into account at approx 2.3 million I think you will see that the murder rate is somewhat inflated. The same thing happens here in St. Louis where I live. We're constantly told we're the most dangerous city in the US which is laughable. St. Louis is always assessed as a city standing alone and these days at approx 350,000 people its easy to see why crime rates look so high. The greater St Louis area is about 2.8 million but that is not the number used in calculating the crime rates. Statistically speaking cities with populations of 7 million (e.g London) should not be compared to those with 0.5 million (Glasgow). Those n values are just too different to make any realistic conclusion about crime.

Wikipedia - City of Glasgow unitary authority area to 578,790.[9] 1,171,390 people live in the Greater Glasgow Urban Area based on the 2001 census.[1] The entire Glasgow conurbation covers approximately 2.3 million people, almost half of Scotland's population.[10]

Posted by: Heather on October 1, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Rudy, Another Ego Driven Employer Like Bush
I think we've all had enough of a President that insists on being surrounded by toadies and unbili-cytes. It always leads to second class insular policy.
I therefor recommend to you the following paragraph:
“Rudy surrounded himself with a very small group of people. The ‘Shrewdies,’ some called them—because they all said yes to Rudy. I’ve always thought that he had a surprisingly small inner circle—and they were not always the best and the brightest.” The same complaint followed Giuliani into politics, where he sometimes seemed to be deliberating inside an echo chamber. Loyalty is the virtue that he most prizes, and its absence in an aide is the surest route to exile.

From "Mayberry Man" The New Yorker, Peter Boyer,
8.20.07 (includes Bratton firing)

Giuliani, toadies, lickspittles, cognitorex blogspot

Posted by: cognitorex on October 1, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most plausible explanations of what brought about the end of the crack epidemic was that people just got tired of it. The drug warriors would like us to think that meth is the new crack but it just hasn't caught on like they thought it would.

Posted by: Joe Bob on October 1, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that explains why San Francisco's date of homicides and drug related shootings are up. It's LA's fault!

Next time someone talks start cracking down on the gangs & drugs, maybe you'll remember that this sort of crime if very much a business. While all politics is local, it can't help _California_ if you _export_ your problems up the interstate and then declare "mission accomplished".

How about doing something to address the causes? An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure and all that

Posted by: SF Girl on October 1, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Herbert

had a column about this issue nationally.

Posted by: davec on October 1, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

You're looking at 289 homicides in a city population of 3.8 million, or 639 homicides in a county population of 10.3 million.

Posted by: doug r on October 3, 2007 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Glasgow's homicide rate is 5.8 per 100,000 rather than 58 lol. The Strathclyde metro (Greater Glasgow) is around 3 per 100,000.

Posted by: Barney on November 3, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

And you're right, Buenaventura's crazy.

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