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Ray Nothstine: FBI crime report should inform policy decisions

By Ray Nothstine

Violent crimes are surging across the country, with North Carolina outpacing the national average.

Newly released data from the FBI notes that 44,000 violent crimes were reported in the state last year, an almost 12% jump from 2019. According to the FBI, violent crime rose nationally by 5.6%. The murder rate fueled that surge, jumping nearly 30% — the largest spike in six decades. More bad news is on the way, given that further increases are expected in next year’s report.

More importantly, how do we bring those numbers down? After all, one of the government’s primary functions is to uphold the rule of law. This endeavor is complicated by many in the media with their anti-police rhetoric and quest for racial strife.

Undoubtedly, police reform is a legitimate topic, but irresponsible efforts to fan the flames have consequences. Narratives fixated on police as racist oppressors help to exacerbate one of the most glaring issues in criminal justice today, the problem of not only apprehending and prosecuting violent criminals — but preventing crime in the first place.

While certainly not new in urban areas, the lack of cooperation with law enforcement keeps violent criminals on the street. The old “snitches get stitches” adage still rings true for many, particularly when law enforcement is constantly depicted as the bad guys, too.

“Unfortunately, clearance rates are abysmally low, and getting lower, especially when it comes to urban homicides, which means that punishment is very far from certain,” says Jon Guze, a senior legal fellow at the John Locke Foundation.

Guze believes more police are needed to fight back against the rise of violent crime.

“It doesn’t matter how tough sentences are in theory if, as is the case in many jurisdictions, if only a small percentage of those who commit homicides and other violent crimes are caught and convicted.” Simply put, more police means less crime, particularly if they are trained and empowered for community policing efforts.

That truth remains a powerful contrast to the absurdity of the defund the police movement, which has only helped to propel the rise in crime and overall lawlessness.

Many of the woke activists and politicians like to point their fingers at guns while ignoring the erosion of the family — lacking strong fathers in the home — and other aspects of cultural decay. Somehow, the fact that gun control only punishes law abiders is still lost on them.

While black Americans are about 13% of the population, they account for over half of all murder victims. The countless stories of parents pleading for neighbors to come forward with any information concerning the senseless murder of their innocent child are heartbreaking. Often, these senseless shootings are drive-by or other violent shootings where children are caught in the crossfire of urban war zones.

For the more affluent and influential, violent crime is often a sterile statistic one might shake their head at now and then. Yet, many residents of our state are currently living a diminished life of fear and angst as they wonder if they or a loved one are the next victims.

The FBI crime report is a sobering reminder that we live in a fallen world. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” declared James Madison. Most of all, we should support an ordered society because we care about people over slogans. The Scripture proclaims a fool flaunts his folly. Nowhere is that more apparent in calls to defund the police, which will only increase crime and human suffering.

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the Carolina Journal, where this column first appeared.

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