Cato @ Liberty
Cities Notice Decline in Latino Crime Reporting Post-Trump
Thu, 25 May 2017 12:45 EDT

Sir Robert Peel

Effective policing requires that crime witnesses and victims contact the police and that citizens trust law enforcement. Without such trust and communication crimes go unsolved, criminals run free, and victims live in fear. Sadly, it looks as if the Trump administration’s immigration rhetoric could have prompted a chilling effect on Latino crime reporting. 

The father of modern policing, the British statesman Sir Robert Peel, understood how important public approval of the police is in order for police officers to effectively do their jobs. Peel founded London’s Metropolitan Police Force in 1829. The force issued new officers with copies of “General Instructions,” which included the “Peelian Principles” of effective policing.* The second Peelian principle urges officers

To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect. 

Although written for officers in London, the Peelian Principles migrated to the states, where now former New York Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton featured them on his blog and they continue to be favorably cited by law enforcement and public safety officials.

The fact that public approval and trust in the police are necessary conditions for effective policing seems to have been lost on officials in the Trump administration, whose anti-immigrant policy proposals could be having a negative effect on crime reporting.

Below is some of an analysis of this issue from FiveThirtyEight:

Data from [Denver, Philadelphia, and Houston] is consistent with the idea that immigrants have become less likely to report crimes. In both Denver and Philadelphia, crime reports among Latinos — who make up 45 percent of all immigrants nationally and a majority of undocumented immigrants, specifically — fell relative to non-Latinos in the first three months of the year. In Denver, crime reports among non-Latinos increased 3.6 percent in the first three months of 2017 compared with the same period last year; among Latinos, crime reports fell 12 percent. In Philadelphia, crime reports by non-Latinos declined by 1.0 percent, while they fell 4.3 percent among Latinos. Notably, the decline in crime reports from Latinos appeared to cut across several types of crimes, whereas the Houston and Los Angeles police chiefs highlighted declines in sexual assault and, in the case of Los Angeles, domestic violence. Neither Denver nor Philadelphia provided data sufficient to evaluate trends in domestic violence and sexual assault. 

The story is a bit different in Dallas, where data shows no overall decline in crime reports among Latinos relative to non-Latinos. (One possible reason for the difference: Crime data released by the Dallas Police Department excludes “sexually oriented offenses” and incidents of domestic violence, the crimes identified by Houston and Los Angeles as experiencing the biggest declines in Latino reporting.) But crime reports among Latinos — or, more precisely, reports of crimes in which the alleged victims are Latinos — do seem to be falling disproportionately in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods. Specifically, since Trump’s election, there has been a statistically significant correlation between the share of a neighborhood’s residents who are non-citizens and the decline in crime reports among Latinos in early 2017.

From Houston Public Media:

In early April, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo alerted a room full of reporters of what sounded like a troubling trend: fewer Hispanics reporting crime this year.

“What we’ve noticed is a 42.8 percent decrease in the number of Hispanic victims reporting rape,” he announced.

Acevedo said that decrease is troubling, because there was actually an 8 percent increase in rapes being reported by non-Hispanics.

“There appears to be, for far in recent weeks and months, a chilling effect on Hispanic members of our communities reporting crimes at a lower rate,” the Chief stated. “When you see this type of data, and what looks like the beginnings of people not reporting violent crime, we should all be concerned.”

He speculated that current political rhetoric, and immigration enforcement tactics, may be making some in the Hispanic community afraid to report crime.

Finally, from NPR:

In Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck says reports of sexual assault this year have dropped 25 percent among the city’s Latino population compared to the same period last year.

A new survey of hundreds of victim’s advocates and legal service providers in 48 states finds that immigrants are afraid to call police, afraid to press charges and afraid to testify at trial because ICE is making arrests at courthouses. 

Fear of local police engaging in immigration enforcement is not limited to immigrants. One survey conducted in 2012 found that 28 percent of U.S.-born Latinos agree with the statement, “I am less likely to contact police officers if I have been a victim of a crime for fear they will ask me or other people I know about our immigration status.” When it comes to reporting known crimes the figures are just as bleak, with 29 percent of U.S. born-Latinos agreeing with the following, “I am less likely to voluntarily offer information about crimes I know have been committed because I am afraid the police officers will ask me or other people I know about our immigration status.” 

It’s not hard to see why you would want unauthorized immigrants to call the police if they witness a crime. If you are attacked from behind and knocked unconscious and the only witness is an unauthorized immigrant wouldn’t you want that person to call the police and describe the assailant?

Faced with the fear of police digging into people’s immigration status some police departments have opted for what are sometimes called “sanctuary” policies such as not asking people for immigration status and not honoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. During his presidential campaign Donald Trump railed against sanctuary cities, threatening to withhold federal funding from jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts. What this proposal overlooked is that sanctuary policies are often implemented as tools of effective policing and good public policy, not lawless political correctness.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the rhetoric of a president who campaigned against legal and illegal immigration has prompted a chilling effect on Latino crime reporting across the country. For as long as there has been modern policing we’ve known that effective policing requires that the public trust police officers. Ironically, the president’s “Blue Lives Matter” approach coupled with his anti-immigration policies look poised to make many police officers’ jobs much harder.

*The Peelian Principles were probably not actually written by Peel himself but by the first joint commissioners of London’s Metropolitan Police Force, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne.

For more on this topic please check out my colleague Jonathan Blanks’ work in The Washington Post and Democracy.

You Ought to Have a Look: Time for a New “Hiatus” in Warming, or Time for an Accelerated Warming Trend?
Thu, 25 May 2017 10:36 EDT

As you can tell from our blog volume, there’s been a blizzard of new and significant climate findings being published in the refereed literature, and here’s some things You Ought to Have a Look at concerning the recent “hiatus” in warming and what might happen to our (now) post-El Niño climate.

With President Trump still deciding on U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, new research suggests the Earth’s global mean surface temperature (GMST) will blow past the so-called 1.5°C Paris target in the next decade. But before making that ominous prediction, Henley and King (2017) provide us with a good history lesson on a taboo topic in climate science circles: the recent global warming “hiatus” or “pause” from 1998-2014. One could be forgiven for thinking the hiatus was “settled science” since it featured prominently in the 2013 IPCC AR5 assessment report. But a concerted effort has been made in recent years to discount the hiatus as an insignificant statistical artifact perhaps based upon bad observational data, or a conspiracy theory to distract the public and climate policymakers. Even acknowledging the existence of the “hiatus” is sufficient to be labeled as a climate change denier.      

Social scientists, psychologists, and theologians of all stripes feared that widespread community acknowledgement of the hiatus would wither support for climate policy at such a pivotal juncture. 

In a 2014 Nature Commentary (Boykoff Media discourse on the climate slowdown) saw the rise of the terms “hiatus and pause” in the media in 2013 as a “wasted opportunity” to highlight the conclusions of the IPCC AR5 report, which in itself ironically struggled with explaining the hiatus/pause (IPCC: Despite hiatus, climate change here to stay. Nature September 27, 2013). Amazingly, in a Nature interview a week prior to AR5’s release, assessment co-chair Thomas Stocker said this:

Comparing short-term observations with long-term model projections is inappropriate. We know that there is a lot of natural fluctuation in the climate system. A 15-year hiatus is not so unusual even though the jury is out as to what exactly may have caused the pause. 

Claims that there might be something fundamentally wrong with climate models are “unjustified unless temperature were to remain constant for the next 20 years,” he said. 

Except there was something fundamentally wrong with the climate models: they missed the pause! The IPCC was caught flat footed and their dodgy explanations were woefully inadequate and fueled continued questions about the credibility of future warming forecasts based exactly on those deficient climate models. What’s going on with this hiatus? A cacophony of explanations has filled the literature and media with several dominant themes: do not believe your lyin’ eyes – the data is wrong – and even if it is not, you are using it wrong. Karl et al. 2015 fixed the SST and buoy data, and (erroneously) claimed to have gotten rid of it. Cherry picking! The heat is sequestered in the depths of the ocean or the aerosols covered up the greenhouse gas signal. It’s enough to make you think climate “science” might not know what it is talking about!  

Only a few years since the last (2013) UN climate report, there is now a strong scientific consensus on the cause of the recent global warming hiatus as well as the previous “big hiatus” from 1950s-1970s: a mode of natural variability called the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) which could be colloquially called El Niño’s uncle. The mode operates on longer time scales than El Niño but it is intimately related as a driver of Pacific Ocean heat exchange with the atmosphere and therefore a dominant modulator of global temperature. In a March 2016 Nature Climate Change commentary (Fyfe et al.), eleven authors including climate scientists Benjamin Santer and Michael Mann persuasively “make sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown.” Their article provides evidence that directly contradicts claims that the hiatus was a conspiracy, or scientifically unfounded fiction. Several important points are made that deserve mentioning:

The recent hiatus occurred during a period of much higher greenhouse gas [GHG] forcing e.g. CO2 almost 100 ppm higher than the previous “big hiatus” slowdown in the 1950s-1970s. The authors rightly raise the question if the climate system is less sensitive to GHG forcing that previously thought or global temperatures will undergo a major warming “surge” once internal natural variability (e.g. IPO) flips sign.

The observed trends in global surface temperature warming were not consistent with climate modeling simulations. Indeed, using a baseline of 1972-2001, climate models failed to reproduce the slowdown during the early twenty-first century even as GHG forcing increased. The hiatus was neither an artifact of faulty data nor statistical cherry-picking – it was a physical change in the climate system that was measured across multiple independent observation types. 

Climate scientists still need to know how variability (natural and anthropogenic) in the climate system works to attempt to model its changes through time regardless of political inconvenience.

Now back to the Henley and King (2017) piece that predicts a flip in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation to a positive phase will lead to almost 0.5°C increase in global temperature by 2030. Based upon the RCP8.5 high emission scenarios (which are likely to be too high themselves), those same climate models that did not adequately predict the early 21st century hiatus are used to generate so-called warming trajectories.

Image adapted from Henley and King (2017)

Image adapted from Henley and King (2017) 

How plausible is this extreme warming scenario? Regardless of the phase of the IPO, the model projections suggest an acceleration in the warming rates considerably above the hiatus period of the last 15-years. The authors allow for 0.1°C of warming from the recent strong El Niño as the offset for the “new” starting period, but that estimate is probably too low. We calculated the daily temperature anomaly from the JRA-55 reanalysis product—a new and probably more reliable temperature record–and apply a 30-day centered mean to highlight the enormous warming step with the 2015-2016 El Niño. Only an eyeball is necessary to see at least a 0.30°C upward step now into May 2017. Note that this is not carbon dioxide warming, and if we had a strong La Niña (the cold opposite of El Niño), we would expect a step down. 

Is this warming now baked in (double entendre intended) to the climate system or will we descend to a lower level during the next year or two thanks to a La Niña? In other words, will the hiatus return, another one begin, or will the upward trajectory accelerate? Oh, and did we mention that we know of no climate model that warms the earth in jump-steps followed by long “hiatuses” after big El Niños?

The Renew Act of 2017
Thu, 25 May 2017 09:23 EDT

The old saying goes, “If you do the crime, you should to do the time.” In reality, however, many ex-offenders find out they’re effectively still being punished after they have served their sentence and have been told they paid their debt to society. These “collateral consequences” of arrest and incarceration include restrictions on potential jobs, housing, and benefits that help people get back on their feet. There are literally tens of thousands of restrictions at the federal, state, and local levels.

One way to alleviate some of these collateral consequences is called expungement. Expungement is a process by which a criminal conviction is effectively erased someone’s record, provided they meet certain criteria. There is already a law that allows first-time, non-violent federal drug possession offenders under the age of 21 to serve one year of probation and have the charges expunged after successful completion.

Today, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) introduced H.R. 2617, “The Renew Act of 2017,” which expands the same expungement eligibility age from 21 to 25 years old.

Expungement expansion could make a big difference in the lives of young adults who make a mistake. Under current laws and practices, the effects of a criminal conviction can burden someone long after they’ve completed their sentence. As I’ve written before, it is simply unfair to expect ex-offenders to become productive members of society and impede their success at the same time. 

For more details, please check out this post by John Malcolm and John-Michael Seibler of the Heritage Foundation. 


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