Removing Krasner and Other ‘Progressive’ Prosecutors Won’t Reduce Violence

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is regularly targeted as the enemy of the city’s police officers and is frequently reviled by John McNesby of the Fraternal Order of Police.

While acrimony makes the news cycle more interesting, attributing spikes in violence to the policies and practices of a single politician or office is not only absurd, it’s contrary to the available evidence. Further, this type of unfounded criticism — which is motivating a Republican effort in Harrisburg to impeach Krasner — distracts stakeholders, including community members, from the root causes and forms of the rise in violent crime. This political sleight of hand jeopardizes the very collaborations needed to reduce acute and long-term trends in violence. Finally, it does not hold responsible the people who are really responsible for violent crimes: the perpetrators.

For those of us interested in a less biased explanation for changing crime patterns in Philadelphia and beyond, let’s go back to 2015 when the spike in homicides began. This is significant, because many Krasner critics begin by citing the increase in homicides during Krasner’s first year in office, 2018, despite the fact that in several major cities, including Philadelphia, homicides began to rise three years prior.

Critics often link progressive lawyers and billionaire George Soros’ campaign funding to the upsurge in homicides. To check this argument, I went ahead and did a quick check of other municipalities that first saw crime rise in 2015.

» READ MORE: The Case for Krasner’s Impeachment | Opinion

Unsurprisingly, some cities, like New Orleans, were far from progressive. According to a 2015 report, the increase in shootings in Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. was the result of a surprising, then new, trend in gang activity and conflict resolution. As the gangs broke up and recruited younger members, the perceived beef – fueled by social media and trash talk – was eventually resolved with guns instead of fists.

A full description of the facts refutes the claim that Krasner’s progressive policies are to blame for the increase in violence. In fact, at least 11 Republican-run states also saw increases in crime in 2015.

Thus, the spike that preceded Krasner’s tenure must have been the result of other factors, some of which still persist today. These include altered policing practices, poverty, trauma and lack of access to basic human needs, such as adequate education, housing and employment.

Politically biased assumptions, like the ones made above, are not only inaccurate, they create the illusion that public safety will be immediately restored by a change in leadership or the next election cycle.

If only it were that easy.

Just think of all the factors that have influenced the increase in crime since 2015, and you will see that Krasner’s impeachment will have no effect.

Take, for example, the theory espoused by former FBI Director James Comey, who said in 2015 that he believed the rise in crime might be the result of something called the Ferguson Effect. , according to which, following high-profile incidents, people pay more attention to the police, which discourages proactive police officers and may encourage people to commit crimes.

Such incidents threaten police-community relations and negatively impact crime reporting, including victim and witness accounts. Additionally, the growing number of Philadelphia police officers who have been unavailable for work, despite being capable of other physically demanding side gigs, due to alleged injuries on the job since 2014, such as the recent reports point out, is also concerning. Fewer reports and fewer police personnel inherently impact crime-solving rates.

READ MORE: Ending the Krasner impeachment side show | Editorial

In a recent study of violence in Philadelphia, the 100 Shooting Review Committee reported that the overwhelming majority of fatal and non-fatal shootings are not resolved by arrest. The lack of arrests can be attributed to a lack of witness participation, reduced availability of response officers, or both.

The report also makes numerous recommendations to address the historic rise in homicide rates in Philadelphia. More importantly, these recommendations are supported by an established body of scientific research, rather than the false ideological notion that the prosecution practices of Krasner, or other progressives, are to blame for the violence in Philadelphia.

In order to truly improve public safety, municipalities must make multiple short- and long-term investments in everything from improving policing practices and collaborative prosecutions to increasing green spaces, recreation centers for at-risk youth, safe and affordable housing, quality education, reliable transportation, decent employment, and treatment for acute and chronic trauma associated with living in an urban war zone.

Anything less will not only objectively fail to reduce violence, but will continue to exacerbate the same sociopolitical conditions that have made Philadelphia one of the most violent and poorest cities in America.

Christi M. Smith, Ph.D. is a former university professor and adult probation and parole officer who supports local and Commonwealth-wide rehabilitation initiatives. She is a senior researcher in the criminal justice and civil liberties division of a Washington, DC think tank.

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