Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America


Edited by: Jeffrey Ian Ross

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    • Dedication

      Dedicated to the memory of Irving Louis Horowitz (1929–2012), scholar, publisher, mentor, and friend.


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      Reader's Guide

      About the Editor

      Jeffrey Ian Ross, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, College of Public Affairs, and a research fellow of the Center for International and Comparative Law at the University of Baltimore.

      He has researched, written, and lectured primarily on corrections, policing, political crime (especially terrorism and state crime), violence (especially criminal, political, and religious), crime and justice in American Indian Communities, and global crime and criminal justice for over two decades. Ross's work has appeared in many academic journals, books, and popular media. He is the author, co-author, editor, or coeditor of 17 books, including his most recent work, An Introduction to Political Crime, published in 2012.

      Ross is a frequent and respected subject-matter expert for local, regional, national, and international news media. He has made live appearances on CNN, CNBC, and Fox News Network. Additionally, Ross has written op-eds for the (Baltimore) Sun, the (Maryland) Daily Record, The Gazette (weekly Maryland community newspapers), the Baltimore Examiner, and the Tampa Tribune.

      From 1995 to 1998, Ross was a social science analyst with the National Institute of Justice, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2003, he was awarded the University of Baltimore's Distinguished Chair in Research Award. During the early 1980s, Ross worked almost four years in a correctional institution.

      List of Contributors

      • Beth Adubato

        New York Institute of Technology

      • J. Keith Akins

        University of Houston, Victoria

      • Donald Anthony

        Vanderbilt University

      • Joyce A. Arditti

        Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

      • Abby Bandurraga

        Portland State University

      • Maya Pagni Barak

        American University

      • Paolo Barbaro

        École Pratique des Hautes Études

      • Terressa A. Benz

        University of Idaho

      • Michael M. Berlin

        Coppin State University

      • P. Colin Bolger

        University of Cincinnati

      • Amanda Bolton

        University of Missouri, St. Louis

      • Clairissa D. Breen

        Cazenovia College

      • Sarah Britto

        Prairie View A & M University

      • David C. Brotherton

        John Jay College of Criminal Justice

      • Michael P. Brown

        Ball State University

      • Sarah Browning

        North Dakota State University

      • Bradley Buckmeier

        University of Cincinnati

      • Kristen Budd

        Miami University of Ohio

      • Jennifer M. Burke

        University of Cincinnati

      • George W. Burruss

        Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

      • Velmer S. Burton, Jr.

        University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

      • Frank Butler

        Saint Joseph's University

      • Vincent Carducci

        The New School for Social Research

      • Patrick J. Carr

        Rutgers University

      • John R. Cencich

        California University of Pennsylvania

      • Michael Chou

        University of Cincinnati

      • James J. Chriss

        Cleveland State University

      • Susan Clampet-Lundquist

        Saint Joseph's University

      • Colleen Clarke

        Minnesota State University, Mankato

      • Jeffrey E. Clutter

        University of Cincinnati

      • Victoria Ellen Collins

        Old Dominion University

      • Scott H. Decker

        Arizona State University

      • Andrew Denney

        University of Louisville

      • Steven Downing

        University of Ontario Institute of Technology

      • M. George Eichenberg

        Tarleton State University

      • Patricia E. Erickson

        Canisius College

      • Kenneth E. Fernandez

        Elon University

      • Jeff Ferrell

        Texas Christian University/University of Kent

      • Benjamin W. Fisher

        Vanderbilt University

      • Mark S. Fleisher

        Case Western Reserve University

      • Kelly Frailing

        Texas A&M International University

      • Teresa Francis

        Central Washington University

      • Laurence Armand French

        University of New Hampshire, Durham

      • Kathleen Gallagher

        University of Cincinnati

      • James Geistman

        Ohio Northern University

      • Camille Gibson

        Prairie View A&M University

      • L. Kris Gowen

        Portland State Unversity

      • Amy Hyman Gregory

        Central Connecticut State University

      • Jennifer N. Grimes

        Indiana State University

      • Garrett Grothoff

        University of Cincinnati

      • Elaine Gunnison

        Seattle University

      • Colin Hammar

        University of Indianapolis

      • Dee Wood Harper, Jr.

        Loyola University New Orleans

      • Aida Y. Hass

        Missouri State University

      • Frederick Hawley

        Western Carolina University

      • Keith Hayward

        University of Kent

      • Jacqueline B. Helfgott

        Seattle University

      • Melissa L. Jarrell

        Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi

      • Michael J. Jenkins

        University of Scranton

      • Eric L. Jensen

        University of Idaho

      • Rebecca S. Katz

        Morehead State University

      • David Kauzlarich

        Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

      • Daniel R. Kavish

        Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

      • Maria J. Kefalas

        Saint Joseph's University

      • Sesha Kethineni

        Illinois State University

      • Theo Kindynis

        University of Kent

      • Timothy Kinlock

        Friends Research Institute and University of Baltimore

      • Susan V. Koski

        Central Connecticut State University

      • Jorja M. Leap

        University of California, Los Angeles

      • Paul Leighton

        Eastern Michigan University

      • Michael Lenza

        University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

      • Keith Gregory Logan

        Kutztown University

      • Brenda J. Lutz

        Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

      • James M. Lutz

        Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

      • Michael D. Lyman

        Columbia College

      • Michael J. Lynch

        University of South Florida

      • William Mackey

        Indiana State University

      • Peter K. Manning

        Northeastern University

      • Eric S. McCord

        University of Louisville

      • Tana McCoy

        Roosevelt University

      • Jill McCracken

        University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

      • John (Jack) McDevitt

        Northeastern University

      • Phyllis P. McDonald

        Johns Hopkins University

      • Zina T. McGee

        Hampton University

      • Jennifer McMahon-Howard

        Kennesaw State University

      • Susan McNeeley

        University of Cincinnati

      • Robert Meier

        University of Nebraska at Omaha

      • J. Mitchell Miller

        University of Texas at San Antonio

      • William J. Miller

        Flagler College

      • David R. Montague

        University of Arkansas at Little Rock

      • Richard K. Moule, Jr.

        Arizona State University

      • Christopher W. Mullins

        Southern Illinois University Carbondale

      • Glenn W. Muschert

        Miami University

      • Stephen L. Muzzatti

        Ryerson University

      • Peter Norton

        University of Virginia

      • Julia Noveske

        Case Western Reserve University

      • Patrick K. O'Brien

        University of Colorado Boulder

      • Allan L. Patenaude

        University of Regina

      • Douglas D. Perkins

        Vanderbilt University

      • Barbara Perry

        University of Ontario Institute of Technology

      • Rebecca Pfeffer

        Northeastern University

      • David Polizzi

        Indiana State University

      • Elizabeth Rholetter Purdy

        Independent Scholar

      • William E. Raffel

        Buffalo State College

      • Prashan Ranasinghe

        University of Ottawa

      • Wendy C. Regoeczi

        Cleveland State University

      • Sadie Reynolds

        Cabrillo College

      • Stephen C. Richards

        University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

      • Christopher Richardson

        University of Western Ontario

      • Scott A. Richmond

        Wayne State University

      • James C. Roberts

        University of Scranton

      • Jennifer J. Roberts

        Indiana University of Pennsylvania

      • Carlos E. Rojas-Gaona

        University of Cincinnati

      • Jeffrey Ian Ross

        University of Baltimore

      • Jeffrey J. Roth

        Indiana University of Pennsylvania

      • Dawn L. Rothe

        Old Dominion University

      • Rick Ruddell

        University of Regina

      • Jeffrey P. Rush

        Austin Peay State University

      • Meghan Sacks

        Fairleigh Dickinson University

      • Patti Ross Salinas

        Missouri State University

      • Jenna Savage

        Boston Police Department

      • Renita L. Seabrook

        University of Baltimore

      • Jeffrey Shantz

        Kwantlen Polytechnic University

      • Zachary Shemtob

        Central Connecticut State University

      • Martha L. Shockey-Eckles

        Saint Louis University

      • Aiden Sidebottom

        University College London

      • Douglas M. Smith

        University of Texas at San Antonio

      • Lionel Smith

        University of Delaware

      • Martha Jane Smith

        Wichita State University

      • Patric R. Spence

        University of Kentucky

      • Philip Stinson

        Bowling Green State University

      • Cody Stoddard

        Central Washington University

      • Amy L. Stutzenberger

        University of Cincinnati

      • John P. Sullivan

        Independent Scholar

      • Richard Tewksbury

        University of Louisville

      • Tracy Faye Tolbert

        California State University, Long Beach

      • Lawrence F. Travis III

        University of Cincinnati

      • Robert F. Vodde

        Fairleigh Dickinson University

      • Norman A. White

        Saint Louis University

      • Kevin Whiteacre

        University of Indianapolis

      • Julie B. Wiest

        High Point University

      • Pamela Wilcox

        University of Cincinnati

      • Aaron Winter

        University of Abertay Dundee

      • Benjamin S. Wright

        University of Baltimore

      • Barbara H. Zaitzow

        Appalachian State University

      • Glenn Zuern

        Albany State University


      It is wrong to equate the nation's “crime problem” with “street crime,” especially with those offenses committed by the inner-city poor. Criminologists have done much to deconstruct this limited view of reality. In fact, most forms of lawlessness are spread rather evenly across the social order. More salient, as repeated waves of corporate scandals reveal, white-collar crimes can cost society enormous sums of money and contribute to financial disaster. Less well known is that each year, illegal practices by corporations—maintaining unsafe or unhealthy workplaces, selling harmful products, or polluting the environment—arguably kill, injure, and sicken far more people than are physically harmed by street crime.

      It would be equally wrong, however, to ignore that street crime has qualities and consequences that make such illegality central in the public's mind when its members think about criminal conduct and the need to control it. Again, scholars are correct to fight the myopic vision that focuses on crime in city streets while turning a blind eye to crimes in corporate suites. But this effort to illuminate the true breadth of the crime problem should not be taken to imply that street crime is unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      Thus, no matter what kind of measures are used—official, victimization, or self-report statistics—it is clear that millions of street crimes are committed annually in the United States. Most are trivial and only a minor bother, and are soon forgotten. But others shatter the lives of victims and their families. When a youngster dies in a senseless shooting; when a woman is callously raped, whether by a stranger or on a date; when a gun is thrust in a person's face and a wallet taken; or when a home is burglarized and cherished property appropriated, the world is not quite the same thereafter. Grief persists, the feeling of personal safety is undermined, and a sense that one's daily existence can be taken for granted is forfeited.

      This reaction occurs because street crime is often personal and predatory, with a perpetrator violating the sanctity of a victim's life space: the individual's car window is shattered and global positioning system (GPS) stolen, a door lock is broken and residence trashed, or a body is touched or bruised. The immediacy and physicality of the offense can trigger feelings of anger and injustice at having been harmed for no reason. Such criminality can incite emotional responses even when not personally experienced. So-called vicarious victimization—witnessing or hearing about the victimization of others—can engender fear and make people, such as the elderly, wary of venturing outside their homes.

      The effects of street crime are felt across the social order. Regardless of our class status, most of us either have been or know someone who has been victimized in a troubling way. But the stubborn reality is that the most damaging illegalities—homicide and other kinds of violence in public spaces—are not evenly distributed. Another cost of American inequality is that it is the poor and people of color who bear this burden most heavily.

      Since scholars in the Chicago School of criminology started to map the location of crimes and criminals across geographical areas in the first part of the 1900s, it has been known that the risk of victimization is highest for those living in inner-city neighborhoods marked by poverty, structural density, transience, and social disorganization. Although the groups have changed—mainly from European immigrants in past times to people of color today—the pattern has remained largely stable. It now appears that the connection between concentrated disadvantage and high rates of street crime and violence is an enduring criminological fact. It is a fact, moreover, that raises daunting questions about how best to control crime.

      Over the past four decades, one option has dominated crime-control policy: Put the criminals behind bars. At first blush, incapacitating the wicked seems sensible. If chronic street offenders are victimizing innocent citizens, then why not send them to prison? In particular, if their predation is visited most often on the urban poor, why is not a stiff sentence a form of social justice? After all, this would be a case of the government allocating its financial resources—paying to incarcerate dangerous criminals—to protect and improve the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens.

      There is a kernel of truth to this line of reasoning—but only a kernel. It breaks down for three reasons. First, a prison term is a blunt and often ineffective way to persuade a street offender to desist from a wayward life. To be sure, some crime is saved; during the time a person sits in a prison cell, further offenses are not committed by that person. This incapacitation effect, as it is called, is estimated to lower the crime rate about one-fourth from what it would be if all inmates were turned loose. But the crime savings come at an inordinate price: placing about 2.4 million people—or about 1 in 100 adults in the United States—behind bars on any given day. Many governors today, regardless of their political party, have recognized that this level of incarceration is financially unsustainable and are seeking ways to limit their states' prison populations. Equally relevant, prisons do not have a specific deterrent effect on offenders. Systematic reviews of the evidence have consistently shown that compared to a community-based penalty, a custodial placement does not reduce reoffending and may, in fact, be criminogenic.

      Second, prisons are disproportionately repositories for poor, minority offenders—another ghetto, as some commentators have suggested, but one created by the state. Given that these custodial institutions often serve to cage and inflict pain and not to correct and improve, it is hard to argue that such facilities are instruments of social justice. In fact, they tend to function as temporary homes for inner-city offenders who, unreformed and undeterred by their incarceration, are released into the streets where the cycle of crime, imprisonment, and more crime is initiated once again. The effect of this churning process is to disrupt families and communities that are unprepared to absorb the stream of offenders constantly reentering their neighborhood—a phenomenon that commentators argue is criminogenic and undermines public safety. Most disquieting, some areas are known as “million dollar blocks”—streets whose residents' incarceration is costing the state $1 million a year. Might not this money have been spent in more productive ways?

      Third, and to answer the question just posed, there are far more constructive options to choose in the attempt to reduce street crime. There is now a powerful, evidence-based treatment approach that has been shown to reduce the recidivism of high-risk offenders. To not try to reform street offenders who enter the correctional system is thus inexcusable. Much can be done as well with at-risk youngsters who are showing signs of early antisocial behavior or who have already begun criminal offending. For example, multisystemic therapy is a widely used program that brings an effective intervention into the home, working with troubled youths as well as with their families and schools to diminish the kids' exposure to criminogenic risk factors and to stave off their nascent criminal careers.

      Further, many urban law enforcement departments have fundamentally changed their practices. These organizations now map hot spots for crime, engage in problem-oriented analysis seeking to uncover why crime is concentrated as it is, and work with community groups to try to lower street offending. They employ a combination of strategies such as situational crime-prevention programs that block access to criminal opportunities, shutting down bars or nightclubs that have high call rates for police service and victimization incidents, and sponsoring violence-reduction programs aimed at simultaneously disrupting criminal networks and offering offenders a way out of crime. The larger point is that the efforts to address street crime must not be fixated on prison as the only, or the best, policy alternative. A comprehensive approach to crime control must recognize the limits of imprisonment and embrace diverse, empirically-based intervention strategies.

      Importantly, despite the harm caused and challenges posed by street crime, there is much good news to share: Rates of street crime have been on a historic downward arc for two decades. To illustrate this point, Franklin Zimring has calculated the percentage decline in homicide for six major cities between 1990 and 2009: New York (82 percent), Los Angeles (71 percent), Houston (64 percent), San Diego (75 percent), San Jose (36 percent), and Boston (68 percent). To place these statistics in perspective, Zimring further discloses what he calls an “astonishing” fact: The 2009 homicide rate in New York was only 18 percent of the city's 1990 rate. Notably, in the late 1980s, declines of this magnitude were not forecasted, and they defy standard criminological explanation today. Part of the crime drop can be attributed to mass imprisonment and to shifts in population (the aging of the baby boomer generation). But the cause of most of the lower offense rates remains a mystery, and the best accounts offered by scholars amount to no more than plausible speculation.

      Still, Zimring leaves us with a telling observation. Many of the inner-city poor and people of color who engaged in serious street crime in past decades were depicted as cold-blooded superpredators beyond reform. Crime and the core features of urban life that arguably produced this cohort of unredeemable thugs were seen as inextricably linked—an ironclad relationship that could never be broken. As it turns out, however, these groups were hardly intractably criminal but rather were quite “malleable”—as the large crime declines show. Zimring thus reminds us of the “inessentiality of urban crime”—that street offenses are perhaps only loosely coupled to, not rigidly determined by, the people, culture, economic structure, or institutions that characterize inner cities. Actions can be taken to encourage conformity and to discourage crime; and when they coalesce in the right mixture at the right point in time, they lead many people who once might have broken the law to make different choices.

      In this context, it seems critical that the origins, effects, and means of controlling street crime be intimately understood. In this volume, Jeffrey Ian Ross thus provides a critical service in compiling informative essays on virtually every aspect of this phenomenon—from celebrated cases to crime in cities and places, from theories and types of street crime to diverse prevention strategies. Notably, this encyclopedia is like a criminological Walmart—everything you need to know about street crime contained under one cover.

      This organization of knowledge has been an editorial challenge—and one, I might add, that Professor Ross has admirably surmounted. Despite the salience of street crime, much criminological scholarship has paid scant attention to such offending. This seems an odd omission for a discipline named criminology—the study of crime. However, spurred in particular by Travis Hirschi's Causes of Delinquency published in 1969, most scholars turned their attention away from detailed studies of street offenders, including from what lures youngsters into a criminal career and how they then go about a life of thievery, burglary, hold-ups, shootings, and so on. Instead, the focus was directed to developing rival theoretical perspectives and then testing them with self-report studies of high school students, selected more for convenience (easily accessible) than for substantive reasons (they were perpetrators of serious illegal acts).

      This line of inquiry produced a wealth of publications and much invaluable knowledge, especially on likely criminogenic risk factors (for example, weak social bonds, associating with delinquent peers). But the relative ease of conducting studies on students—and the advent of desktop computers for simply downloading secondary self-report data sets collected by others—had the unfortunate side effect of becoming a method of doing criminology that was too tempting for scholars to pass up (alas, including this author). Thus, rather than venture into real-world environs so as to spend time chronicling the daily lives of street offenders and the nature of their criminal acts, most scholars became—and now remain—armchair researchers who crunch data on computers and turn out pub-lishable articles from the comfort of their offices.

      Again, these considerations supply a context for appreciating the unique contribution of Jeffrey Ian Ross's Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America. By presenting a compelling roster of essays, this volume allows us, in an unprecedented way, to travel inside the world of street crime—a world rarely visited by most criminologists. Embarking on such an excursion, with Professor Ross as one's able tour guide, is well worth the investment of time and energy. Indeed, truly learning about the complexities of street crime not only is an endlessly fascinating experience but also is essential to achieving a rich understanding of the criminal enterprise.

      Francis T.Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Cincinnati


      Street crime is a prevalent factor in cities and urban locales in the United States and around the world. The headlines of major daily newspapers and the lead stories on the local nightly news are replete with reported incidents of street robberies, carjackings, sexual assaults, and missing children. The news media and the public appear to have an insatiable appetite for information on this kind of social behavior. Although street crime has existed since humans decided that it would be in their best mutual interests to live close to their neighbors and form communities, street crime in America reached a crescendo in terms of public attention and official rates (as measured by the Uniform Crime Reports) in the 1980s and lasted well into the remaining decade of the 20th century. The fact that violent crime and property crime started declining in the mid-1990s and hit an all time low in 2003 has been ignored by many members of the public, reporters, and politicians alike. Needless to say, street crime remains a fact of life for city dwellers and criminal justice practitioners alike.

      Although few definitions exist, in general, street crime refers to crimes connected to the urban lifestyle, against people and property, committed in both public and private places. Indeed many of these types of crimes can occur in suburban and rural areas, but urban locales are unique in many respects. With few exceptions, cities have higher population densities, more attractive targets for victimization, and house a disproportionate number of the country's poor than suburban and rural parts of the United States. The fact that most introductory textbooks on criminology and criminal justice do not define street crime per se is ironic and contradictory in many respects, but this discussion is best left for a different venue.

      This essay is intended to provide a brief overview of the content of the encyclopedia so readers will have a sort of road map of what to expect. It also provides a brief history on scholarship in this area of inquiry. The encyclopedia includes entries concerning the major actors (that is, not only types of criminals, but also the victims), affected by street crime. It also identifies and analyzes the variety of perpetrators (from street gangs to organized crime) and those who get involved after the fact when street crimes are reported, from private citizen groups (such as the Guardian Angels and vigilantes) to publicly-chartered criminal justice agencies (for example, police, courts, and jails). The encyclopedia also reviews important figures who have attempted to control and/or respond to street crime in America (William Bratton, Rudolph Giuliani, etc.). Not content to simply mention the individuals, the Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America also looks at some of the major criminal justice initiatives to study and monitor street crime (for example, the Kerner Commission and the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment). Some of the more important street crime cases that garnered public attention are included in this encyclopedia are the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, the 1987 Tawana Brawley “assault,” and the 1989 Central Park Jogger cases, all occurring in New York City. Theories and debates concerning street crime causation are also examined, such as the Broken Windows Theory, and the debate concerning the disproportionate attention among criminologists and the popular media on street crimes versus suite crimes.

      The encyclopedia has entries focusing on street crime in the largest cities in the United States (such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.). These topics review street crime trends in each of these cities, and the major players, including the civic organizations, political leaders, and criminal justice actors that have been involved in combating and responding to street crime over the past six decades.

      Entries review the history and dynamics of street crime and scholarship on this topic. In so doing, they trace both the empirical research, news reporting, and government documentation that has developed, and the moral panic that arose in the United States concerning this topic.

      Brief History of Street Crime in Contemporary America

      Crime has always been part of the American social fabric. Street crime became an important public policy concern during the 1960s. The federal government sponsored a number of commissions, partially because of the increased number of street demonstrations and riots in connection with public demands for increased civil rights, racial inequality, and America's military participation in Indochina (Vietnam in particular). The first, the Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, released its well-cited report, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, in 1967. The second, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (often referred to as the Kerner Commission), published its findings in 1968.

      In the 1960s, a series of federally funded commissions, including the U.S. National Commission on the Causes of Crime and Disorder (1968), investigated race riots and increasing crime in the country. The reports made several recommendations, one of which was the passage of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which established a separate branch of the Department of Justice called the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

      The administration's mission was to provide funds for postsecondary institutions of higher education to train criminal justice personnel; give out grants and low-cost loans to practitioners pursuing higher education; give money to universities to develop programs in criminology and criminal justice; increase specialized knowledge about criminology/criminal justice; and improve education for practitioners.

      Crime was and is a politically charged social problem and methods to reduce its frequency were embraced by the administration of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson in his War on Crime. His administration's failure to make a meaningful dent in the crime rate gave conservative elements (that is, the Republicans) an easily identifiable policy failure to point to. This helped usher Richard Nixon into the White House and laid the seeds of the later failed anticrime policies and practices generally referred to as the War on Drugs, and changes in laws and sentencing, which was a “tough on crime” approach (for example, truth in sentencing, or three strikes you are out).

      While the public channeled their discontent to local criminal justice agencies, their mayors, and other elected officials in their cities and states, some individuals were not content to have local law enforcement be responsible for public safety. Although neighborhood self-help groups such as the Black Panthers in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, started appearing during the 1960s, it was not until the late 1970s that groups like the New York City-based Guardian Angels started emerging. Distinctive in their red berets and jackets, they would patrol high crime areas on foot such as the subway and housing projects, hoping to act both as a deterrent to criminals and to apprehend individuals (by using a citizen's arrest) if they witnessed them committing a crime. This coproduction of public safety manifested itself in neighborhood watches and crime prevention programs that citizens were encouraged to participate in.

      During and since the 1980s, a handful of notable incidents, trends, and seminal pieces of research have affected policing. These include the introduction of community policing, zero-tolerance policing, and CompStat. In 1979, Herman Goldstein published his quintessential article on problem-oriented policing. He suggested that since the development of motorized patrol, police had become increasingly out of touch with the communities they served. This resulted in an increase in both crime and citizens' disrespect for the police. To change this state of affairs, police needed to shift their focus ever so slightly from crimes that have already occurred to the problems that lead to crime. Goldstein advocated that police departments form true partnerships with the communities in which they work to solve mutually identified problems. Problem-oriented policing became one of several strategies embedded in community policing. It took another 15 years for his ideas to result in the formation and passage of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (also known as the Crime Act), which, among its major components, led to the creation of the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services in the Department of Justice.

      In 1982, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling wrote a seminal article called “Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety,” which argued that small-scale deviance and neighborhood disorder (for example, houses boarded up, in disrepair, lawns not being cut, or graffiti) can have a big effect on neighborhood deterioration and thus crime. This article provided the intellectual groundwork for the slow and selected introduction of zero-tolerance policing—that is, the aggressive enforcement of one or more criminal laws in a particular jurisdiction and/or during a specific period; no discretion is allowed on the part of officers. It was also seminal for the introduction of CompStat (short form for Computer Analysis of Crime Statistics, or Comprehensive Computer Statistics) in the New York City Police Department. In essence, through the Comp-Stat program, on a regular basis, the police department converts crime statistics into maps of criminal events. This information is then used by senior management to regularly monitor the performance of precinct-level staff in crime reduction efforts.

      By the 1990s, street crime was still a prominent part of the urban experience with young economically disenfranchised African American and Hispanic males disproportionately being both perpetrators and victims. By this time, scholars were trying to make sense of the empirical reality of this phenomenon and to understand the wider implications of this trend. Diana Gordon, in her book The Justice Juggernaut: Fighting Street Crime, Controlling Citizens, warned readers that because street crime is a dominant social problem, it is easy to assume that rationale responses have been crafted. On the other hand, those that do get passed disproportionally are at the behest of the powerful and loudest segments of society, and this can be dangerous, if not a waste of taxpayers' funds.

      As we entered into the 1990s, the street crime rate started leveling out and a Democrat (Bill Clinton) was elected to the White House. One of his first acts of business was the passage of the Crime Bill. Not only did it establish the Office of Community Policing Services, but it also provided funds to eligible law enforcement agencies to hire 10,000 new police officers who would be doing community policing. It also provided funding for research on community policing. Numerous pilot projects were implemented, some were even evaluated. Though street crime appears to be in decline in our major centers, alternative challenges seem to dominate both law enforcement and current headlines. Police departments, particularly large urban ones, are now being drawn into terrorism investigations and into the monitoring of illegal immigration. Both of these tasks are being asked of our criminal justice practitioners while we cut their budgets.


      The Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America is the most up-to-date work on the subject. The encyclopedia should appeal not only to criminologists, but also to criminal justice practitioners, students of criminology/criminal justice, members of the media, and to politicians seeking an overview on the problem of street crime. The public should also find many of the entries informative, interesting, and engaging.

      Jeffrey IanRoss, Editor


      1630: The City of Boston passes a law banning all cards, dice, and gambling tables and establishes penalties for violators.

      1781: Reverend Samuel Peters coins the phrase blue laws in his work published under a pseudonymn, the General History of Connecticut.

      1783: First reports surface of gang activity along the east coast of the United States after the Revolutionary War. These gangs, known as Smith's Vly gang, the Bowery Boys, the Broadway Boys, the Long Bridge Boys, and the Fly Boys, are made up of local youths defending their turf with their fists.

      1820: Following a large wave of immigration, ethnic gangs begin forming in New York City. The new gangs are deemed more structured and considerably more dangerous than gangs of earlier eras.

      1823: Congress approves a national lottery with proceeds earmarked for beautifying Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the private agency that organized the lottery absconds with money garnered from the sale of tickets. The Supreme Court later rules that the winner of the $100,000 prize be paid by the District of Columbia.

      1825: The Forty Thieves, which becomes the most notorious youth gang of the period, is founded in Lower Manhattan. Gang members are typically bouncers, laborers, longshoremen, butchers, and carpenters to whom violence and turf wars are a way of life.

      1830: The combined earnings of legal and illegal lotteries rises to $60 million. That amount is five times the current federal budget.

      1832: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania outlaw all lotteries, and other states soon follow their lead.

      1835: Antigambling vigilante groups drive gamblers out of Natchez, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; and a number of other river towns.

      1837: Approximately 400 schools in Massachusetts are vandalized.

      1840: Pistol- and knife-carrying gangs such as the Bouncers, Rats, and Skinners appear in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

      1855: A New York City historian estimates that at least 30,000 members of gangs operating in the city are connected to political leaders associated with Tammany Hall, the Know Nothing Party, or the Native American Party.

      1860: The first Chinese gangs (tongs) begin appearing in New York City. They are involved in the sale of opium, gambling, and political patronage.

      1866: Forming themselves from the defunct Chin-chesters, the Wyos begin absorbing other former rivals to become Manhattan's most-feared gang. They offer a menu of crimes for hire that range from punching someone to murder.

      1871: In October, a white mob attacks 20 Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, burning and looting both private homes and stores.

      1883: During what becomes known as the Snake River Massacre in Oregon, 31 Chinese miners are murdered by disgruntled cohorts.

      1895: Congress passes the Federal Lottery Act, banning lotteries in all types of interstate commerce, as a result of individuals attempting to transport foreign lottery tickets across state lines.

      1900: Approximately a quarter of a million Americans are reportedly addicted to opiates.

      1910: James R. Mann (R-IL), chair of the Interstate Commerce Committee, steers a “white slavery” bill through the House of Representatives, making it a violation of federal law to aid, abet, or transport females across state lines for “immoral purposes.”

      1912: The American Purity Alliance and the American Vigilance Committee merge into the American Federation for Social Hygiene to combine efforts to work toward banning all forms of prostitution and halting the spread of venereal disease.

      1913: In Atlanta, Jewish American Leo Frank is found guilty of murdering a teenage girl who works in his factory. The conviction is based on circumstantial evidence, and Governor John Slaton commutes the sentence to life in prison. A mob storms Frank's cell and lynches him. Decades later, evidence is produced proving that a janitor in the factory committed the murder.

      1914: Congress passes the Harrison Narcotic Act, regulating the production and sale of opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine, and coca products, and requiring licensing of all distributers.

      1914: The last major downtown gang battle takes place in New York City.

      1918: In response to an outbreak of syphilis during World War I, Congress passes the Chamberlain-Kahn bill, requiring the internment of any female suspected of being a prostitute. The average term of internment is 10 weeks, but minor females are sometimes held for a year or until they reach maturity.

      1918: Congress passes the Mann Act, which bans the transportation of any person across state or territorial lines for the purposes of prostitution or other forms of illegal sexual activity. Violators could be fined, serve up to five years in prison, or both.

      1919: Fleeing gangland-style murder charges in New York, notorious gangster Al Capone relocates to Chicago.

      1919: Following the drowning of an African American youth on a section of beach designated for whites, a race riot rages in Chicago from July 27 to August 2. Before it is over, 38 people are dead, 537 are injured, and 1,000 people have been rendered homeless.

      1920: On January 16, the Eighteenth Amendment takes effect, restricting the sale of alcohol and establishing an environment in which speakeasies, organized crime, and the Italian Mafia flourish.

      1922: The Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act tightens existing restrictions on the sale of mind-altering drugs in the United States.

      1925: Moving away from the ethnic gangs of the past, 40 percent of all gangs operating in Chicago are composed of mixed ethnicities.

      1928: With Chinese immigration banned, racists turn their attention to Filipinos, and rioting breaks out in both California and Washington State.

      1930: Anti-Filipino rioting again breaks out in California and Washington State.

      1931: In Alabama, nine African American men are arrested for the alleged rape of two white women on a train. Although the charges prove to be unfounded, the defendants spend most of the rest of their lives trying to clear their names and recover damages.

      1931: After Thalia Massie is raped in Honolulu, Hawai'i, her husband murders one of her alleged assailants. The case receives national attention when noted attorney Clarence Darrow defends the husband.

      1931: In order to combat the Great Depression, the state of Nevada legalizes gambling within its borders, paving the way for its future role as the gambling capital of the United States.

      1931: The state of Massachusetts decriminalizes the game of Bingo.

      1933: Ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment overturns the Eighteenth Amendment, signaling the end of Prohibition.

      1933: Michigan, New Hampshire, and Ohio legalize pari-mutuel betting.

      1934: Sexual deviant Albert Fish is apprehended in White Plains, New York, and charged with the murder, mutilation, and cannibalism of 12-year-old Grace Budd.

      1934: Bruno Hauptmann is charged with the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

      1936: New Yorker prosecutor and future Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey successfully prosecutes Mafia member Charles “Lucky” Luciano on charges of prostitution and pandering. Doubts continue to surface concerning his guilt.

      1937: Passage of the Marijuana Tax Act gives the federal government the authority to control production and distribution of marijuana.

      1942: Congress passes the Opium Poppy Control Act, making it a violation of federal law to grow opium poppies without a license, which is issued only to those engaged in growing the seeds for medical or scientific purposes. In California, growers are granted an exception for current crops.

      1942: On August 2 in the Sleepy Lagoon area of Los Angeles, the body of Jose Diaz leads to the arrest of 300 Mexican American youths. Twelve are convicted of murder, and five are found guilty of assault in what is subsequently labeled a kangaroo court.

      1943: In May, during a high school dance in Venice, California, allegations surface that local Mexican American Zoot Suiters have stabbed a sailor. A crowd of 500 sailors and civilians begins attacking Mexican Americans in retaliation. Over the next few days, the mob grows to 5,000, and the attack spreads to the African American section of Watts.

      1944: A U.S. Appeals Court overturns the convictions of those charged with murder or assault in the Sleepy Lagoon Murder.

      1946: With the debut of the Flamingo Casino in Nevada, the notorious Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel becomes the first gangster to build a casino controlled by racketeers.

      1948: World War II veteran Otto Friedli founds the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Fontana, California. The club eventually goes global, attaining iconic status.

      1951: The Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime of the U.S. Senate holds televised hearings on mob involvement in gambling.

      1953: Marlon Brandon stars in The Wild One, a movie about two rival motorcycle gangs terrorizing a small town. Brando becomes a cultural icon, but critics contend that the movie glorifies violence.

      1955: On August 24, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago youth visiting his uncle in Money, Mississippi, incurs the wrath of white racist Roy Bryant by “flirting” with his wife while hanging out on a local street. J. W. Milam forcibly removes Till from his uncle's home in the middle of the night, and his mutilated body is later discovered. Both men are exonerated of Till's murder by an all-white jury.

      1958: Respected CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow narrates Who Killed Michael Farmer, a documentary about the beating death of a handicapped 15-year-old in a New York City park during a gang war.

      1961: The Supreme Court upholds Maryland's blue laws in McGowan v. Maryland.

      1962: The notorious Boston Strangler begins his two-year spree of rape and murder.

      1963: On June 12, civil rights activist Medgar Evers is murdered as he arrives at the driveway of his own home. It is not until 1994 that Byron de la Beckwith is successfully prosecuted for the crime and sentenced to life in prison.

      1963: On September 15, an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama, is bombed during Sunday school, killing four young girls. The bombing is one of the many incidents that heighten pressure for comprehensive civil rights legislation at the federal level.

      1963: On November 22, Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fires on the presidential motorcade traveling through downtown Dallas, Texas, killing President John F. Kennedy and wounding Governor John Connally.

      1964: While returning home from work, in two separate attacks, 28-year-old bar manager Kitty Genovese is repeatedly stabbed and raped in Queens, New York, by Winston Mosley. While as many as 28 neighbors hear her calls for help, no one intervenes. She dies as a result of her wounds.

      1964: Arizona Republican Barry Goldwater focuses national attention on street crime by making it a major issue in his presidential campaign.

      1964: New Hampshire institutes the first statewide lottery of the postwar period, permitting gambling on two horse races each year.

      1965: On August 11, racial rioting begins in Watts, an impoverished Los Angeles neighborhood, after the arrest of an African American motorist by a white police officer. The riot continues for six days, results in the loss of 34 lives, and inflicts $40 million dollars in damages.

      1966: On June 12, rioting breaks out during a Puerto Rican Day parade on Chicago's Division Street after the shooting of a Puerto Rican male by police officers. The riot continues for two days as residents express their dissatisfaction with economic and social conditions.

      1967: Rioting breaks out in the African American ghettos of Newark, New Jersey, on July 12 after police arrest an African American cab driver. The riot rages for four days, leaving 26 dead, including a 10-year-old child, and results in $10 million in damages.

      1967: On July 23, rioting in Detroit is precipitated by a police raid on an unlicensed after-hours drinking club located at Twelfth Street and Clairmont Avenue. Alleging police brutality, African Americans riot for five days, engaging in rampant looting and arson.

      1967: President Lyndon B. Johnson appoints Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, Jr., to chair the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders following a series of urban racial riots.

      1967: In response to President Johnson's War on Poverty, the Spartican Army, a New York Puerto Rican gang, opts to join the Establishment, opening a child-care facility and offering summer classes for inner-city youths.

      1967: New York City relaxes its antiprostitution laws, clearing the way for prostitutes to openly seek business in public places such as Times Square. Pimps begin frequenting bus terminals, targeting young Scandinavian girls arriving from the midwest along what becomes known as the “Minnesota Strip.”

      1968: The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, popularly known as the Kerner Commission, issues a 426-page report detailing the existence of two separate societies in the United States and calling for increased opportunities for African Americans and an expanded police presence to forestall potential rioting.

      1969: After being ejected from the Stonewall bar in New York City by police, gay patrons in Greenwich Village initiate a riot. That action sets off a period of increased activism within the gay and lesbian communities.

      1970: African American gangs begin resurfacing in Los Angeles, with most members gravitating to either the Crips or the Bloods.

      1971 President Richard Nixon creates the Special Action Office of Drug Abuse Prevention to coordinate aspects of his drug policy and programs.

      1971: Feminists hold the first public speak-out against rape in St. Clement's Episcopal Church in New York City.

      1971: New Jersey launches the first successful modern lottery with 50-cent tickets and weekly drawings, netting $30 million within the first six months of operation.

      1972: Officials report that there are 500 gangs operating within Los Angeles.

      1972: In Jacksonville, Florida, eight individuals are convicted of “prowling by auto” and loitering under a local ordinance. The ordinance is subsequently found unconstitutional on the grounds of vagueness because its intentions were not made clear, which was perceived as potentially leading to innocent activity being labeled illegal.

      1973: The Supreme Court establishes a constitutional right to abortion on the grounds of privacy in Roe v. Wade, and antiabortionists embark on a wave of violence against reproductive clinics.

      1973: President Richard Nixon establishes the National Institute of Drug Abuse to bring all federal prevention and treatment programs under one umbrella.

      1973: Margo St. James and a group of San Francisco prostitutes establish COYOTE, an advocacy group for prostitutes, and begin holding the Hooker's Ball.

      1973: The National Organization for Women calls for the decriminalization of prostitution.

      1975: The American Civil Liberties Union joins other liberal groups in demanding that prostitution be decriminalized.

      1976: Anti-abortionists begin using arson to shut down clinics that provide abortion services.

      1977: In Coker v. Georgia, the Supreme Court rules that that invoking the death penalty in cases involving the rape of an adult amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

      1978: A wave of bombings at abortion clinics occurs throughout the year.

      1978: In San Francisco on November 27, Harvey Milk, an openly gay member of the Board of Supervisors, and Mayor George Moscone are killed by Dan White, a former supervisor whose reappointment to the board has been blocked by Milk. White is eventually sentenced to only seven years in prison for the murders.

      1979: In Atlanta during the summer, two 14-year-old African American youths disappear and are found murdered. The killing spree, which becomes known as the Atlanta Child Murders, continues for two more years, claiming a total of 28 victims ranging in age from 7 to adulthood. Wayne Williams is ultimately convicted of two of the murders. The murder spree ends, but controversy concerning Williams's conviction rages for decades.

      1979: In New York City on May 25, 6-year-old Etan Patz disappears while on his way to school and is never seen again. Beginning in 1983, that date is celebrated each year as Missing Children's Day in the United States.

      1979: McDonald's night manager Curtis Sliwa founds the Magnificent 13, a voluntary group of unarmed New Yorkers who patrol subways, streets, and neighborhoods to prevent crime. The group, eventually named the Guardian Angels, gains a global following.

      1981: Seven-year-old Adam Walsh is kidnapped from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27. In August, his decapitated body is discovered in a canal in Vero Beach. Serial killer Ottis O'Toole confesses to the crime but is never charged. Adam's father John helps found the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and becomes the host of the television show America's Most Wanted.

      1982: Eighty percent of President Ronald Reagan's drug budget targets efforts to reduce the flow of banned substances into the United States.

      1982: Chrysler plant superintendent Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz beat Chinese American auto worker Vincent Chin to death over their anger at the impact of Japanese manufacturers on the American auto industry. After a plea bargain, they are given probation and a fine. The incident helps inspire the Asian American civil rights movement.

      1983: The gang rape of a female occurs at Big Dan's Tavern in New Bedford, Massachusetts, amid cheers of encouragement. Four of the six perpetrators are later convicted.

      1983: Some 400 Americans participate in the first annual National Night Out to focus public attention on the need to combat street crime and drug abuse at the local level.

      1984: Congress passes the Missing Children's Assistance Act and establishes the National Resource Center and Clearinghouse on Missing and Exploited Children. That role is filled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which sets up a 24/7 hotline (1-800-THE-LOST).

      1984: Self-employed Bernhard Goetz, a former mugging victim, shoots four African American teenagers with an unlicensed revolver during what he characterizes as a mugging on a Manhattan subway. The press dubs him the Subway Vigilante and he is hailed as a hero by many New Yorkers.

      1986: President Ronald Reagan formalizes his war on drugs on August 4, initiating a national crusade against drugs.

      1986: On December 20, in Howard Beach in Queens, New York, Michael Griffith, an African American construction worker, and his companions seek help after their car breaks down. Griffith is subsequently struck and killed by an automobile while fleeing white teenagers wielding baseball bats and tree limbs and shouting racial epithets.

      1986: Florida becomes the first state to mandate human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) testing of prostitutes.

      1987: Bernhard Goetz is cleared of attempted murder charges of the four teenagers who threatened him on the subway, but is found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm

      1987: The Reagan administration doubles the amount of federal funding allotted to drug control, focusing chiefly on expanding the reach of law enforcement and shifting efforts to states through block grants.

      1987: On November 28, reports surface that Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old New Yorker, had been abducted and repeatedly raped by six white men, including one wearing a police badge. Her story is later discredited because no evidence substantiates her claim that abduction or rape ever occurred.

      1987: Newspapers in southern California report that “road rage” has been responsible for 70 shootings and one stabbing during the summer months.

      1987: In New York City, Arthur K. Saloman, a former investment banker, engages in an argument with an unarmed college student over whose vehicle has the right to pass the other. As the student walks back to his car, Saloman shoots him. Convicted of first-degree assault, Saloman receives an 18-month prison sentence.

      1988: Congress restores much of the antidrug funding cut by the Reagan administration and passes the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, creating the Office of National Drug Policy Control and increasing penalties for drug traffickers.

      1988: Wisconsin passes a new hate crime law that allows judges to add up to five years to the punishment of anyone convicted of attacks in which selected victims are chosen solely because of their race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry.

      1988: Rioting breaks out in New York's Tompkins Square Park when park habitués protesting a 1 a.m. curfew are assailed by police officers.

      1989: Following complaints of heavy late-night activity in a Los Angeles neighborhood warehouse, federal and local police officers discover 47,554 pounds of cocaine protected only by a $6 lock. The street value of the cache is estimated at a value of $6 to $7 billion. The incident nets the largest cocaine recovery in history.

      1989: While returning from a convenience store, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling is kidnapped near his home in St. Joseph, Minnesota, by a gun-wielding masked man. He is never seen again, and no one is ever brought to trial in the case. The incident leads to the 1994 passage of Jacob's Law, requiring registration of those convicted of sexual crimes against children.

      1989: The public responds with widespread outrage to reports that a group of popular athletes in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, have raped a mentally handicapped teenager.

      1989: Nationwide, school officials report that 15.3 percent of schools are experiencing gang activity. In urban schools, that number rises to 24.8 percent.

      1989: On April 19, investment banker Trisha Meili is brutally attacked and raped while jogging through New York's Central Park. Five Hispanic youths are convicted of the crime.

      1989: In July in Raleigh, North Carolina, two brothers who believe Jim (Ming Hai) Loo, a Chinese American, is Vietnamese, accuse him of being responsible for American deaths during the Vietnam Conflict. They strike him with a baseball bat, and he falls face down on a broken bottle, which pierces his brain. Robert Piche is sentenced to 37 years in prison, and Lloyd Piche is found guilty of violating Loo's civil rights. This is the first time the federal government has successfully prosecuted a civil rights case involving an Asian American victim.

      1989: In Kenosha, Wisconsin, on October 7, a group of black teenagers led by Todd Mitchell attack a white passerby after viewing the civil rights-era movie Mississippi Burning. Mitchell is charged with violation of Wisconsin's new hate crime law and has two years added to his two-year sentence for aggravated battery. He appeals the conviction.

      1989: Portland, Oregon, passes a local ordinance allowing police officers to impound the vehicles of customers visiting prostitutes. Owners must pay approximately $300 in fines and processing costs to reclaim their vehicles, and the signatures of other owners, including wives or employers, are required.

      1990: Contrary to popular belief, an analysis of National Crime Victimization Surveys reveals that 70 percent of assaults on white Americans are committed by white assailants.

      1990: In New York, Hispanics replace African Americans as the dominant force in street gangs.

      1990: Congress makes it a felony violation to bring guns within 1,000 feet of any school.

      1990: Boston turns to community policing after experiencing 152 homicides and 1,000 aggravated assaults in a single year. Homicides rates drop 50 percent overall. The homicide rate among people younger than 24 decreases by two-thirds.

      1990: A study released by the Commission on Public Health reveals that 75 percent of 201 prostitutes surveyed claim that they would perform any sex act without using a condom if the price were right.

      1991: On May 20, the cargo ship President Truman arrives in Oakland, California, from Bangkok, Thailand. Acting on a hunch, customs agents board the vessel, where they discover 1,071 pounds of heroin estimated at a street value of $2.5 billion. It is the largest stash of heroin ever discovered in a single incident in the United States.

      1991: A poll released by the National Opinion Research Council indicates that 42 percent of Americans living in suburban areas of large cities are afraid to walk their own neighborhoods at night because of street crime.

      1991: On March 3, a home video captures the beating of African American motorist Rodney King by four Los Angeles police officers. Their subsequent acquittal sets off a wave of rioting that leads to 53 death and $1 billion in damages.

      1991: Jewish civil rights groups report that the number of anti-Semitic attacks has reached an alltime high.

      1991: Antihomosexual attacks rise by almost one-third in the five large American cities that monitor such incidents.

      1991: Yankel Rosenbaum, a visiting Jewish scholar, is fatally attacked in an anti-Semitic rampage in the predominantly African American section of Brooklyn's Crown Heights. The person responsible for Rosenbaum's death is later acquitted.

      1991: The International Narcotics Control Board of the United Nations reports that there are 12.6 million drug abusers in the United States. The report also states that the number of cocaine abusers in the United States has risen from 1.6 million to 1.9 million over the past year.

      1991: According to Federal Bureau of Investigation records, 81,536 arrests are made on charges of engaging in prostitution or providing commercial sex in this year alone.

      1991: With the sixth-highest violent crime rate in the nation, New Haven, Connecticut, institutes community policing, setting off a trend of declining crime rates.

      1992: The Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights is passed, protecting the rights of victims of sexual assaults on college campuses, mandating public reporting of campus sexual assaults, and allowing victims to report assaults to the police rather than to campus security.

      1992: In R.A.V. v. St. Paul, the Supreme Court overturns the local hate crime ordinance that had been used to prosecute a white teenager who burned a cross in the yard of a black family, setting off a national debate on the constitutionality of similar ordinances and campus speech codes.

      1992: The state Supreme Courts of both Ohio and Wisconsin overturn state hate crime penaltyenhancement laws.

      1992: The City Council of Chicago passes an antigang ordinance prohibiting gang members from congregating on streets or in public places, leading to 89,000 dispersal orders and 42,000 arrests over a three-year period. The ordinance is subsequently overturned in City of Chicago v. Morales after being deemed vague.

      1992: Suburban Los Angeles schools confiscate a total of 405 guns during the school year, and 28 of these are taken from elementary school students.

      1993: In March, abortion provider David Gunn is murdered in Pensacola, Florida.

      1993: On October 1, 12-year-old Polly Klaas is taken from her home in Petaluma, California, during a slumber party by a man who enters her home from the street outside. Her strangled body is discovered on December 3, focusing national attention on the issue of the registration of known sexual offenders who prey on children.

      1993: The number of participants in the National Night Out event designed to fight crime in local communities grows to 8,500.

      1994: In July, abortion provider John Bayard Britton and his escort are murdered in Pensacola, Florida.

      1994: In December, Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols are shot and killed in separate incidents at abortion clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts.

      1994: After luring her into his home in Mercer County, New Jersey, with promises of a puppy, convicted sex offender Jesse Timmendequas rapes and strangles 7-year-old Megan Kanka. Public outcry leads to the passage of Megan's Law, a federal requirement that sex offenders against children register their whereabouts with law enforcement, and that law enforcement make registry information available to the public.

      1994: Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act, establishing federal penalties for interstate stalking and assault and setting up the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

      1994: Congress passes the Gun-Free School Act, making it mandatory for school officials to expel for one year any student bringing a gun to school.

      1994: President Bill Clinton's anticrime legislation the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is signed into law, with the ultimate goal of putting 100,000 new police officers on American streets.

      1994: New York City Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple introduces CompStat, a computerized analysis of crime statistics that places officers according to recognized patterns of criminal activity, resulting in a reduction in the city's crime rate, leading other cities to adopt the system.

      1995: School officials report the presence of gang activity in 28.4 percent of American schools. In urban areas, that figure climbs to 40.7 percent.

      1996: On January 13, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman is kidnapped during a bike ride while visiting her grandparents in Arlington, Texas. She is molested and killed, but no one is ever brought to trial for the crime. Her father and a friend initiate the idea that the media and the public can work together to locate missing children immediately after they are abducted by using what becomes known as an Amber Alert system.

      1996: Congress passes a federal Megan's Law, mandating registration of known sex offenders.

      1996: “Road rage” is reported to be responsible for two-thirds of the 41,000 automobile-related deaths. These incidents involve speeding, cutting off other motorists, and following too closely.

      1996: In April, two dueling male drivers traveling at a speed of 80 miles per hour lose control of their vehicles and cross the median, hitting two oncoming vehicles. Only one of the four drivers involved in the crashes survives.

      1996: Matthew Shepard meets Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson at the Fireside Lounge, near Laramie, Wyoming. Offended by his homosexuality, the two take Shepard to a remote location where they tie him to a fence post and torture him until he lapses into a coma. He dies in a hospital days later. The incident focuses national attention on hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation.

      1997: In five separate incidents, students open fire at schools, killing 11 classmates and two teachers. Another 47 individuals are wounded.

      1997: The video game Grand Theft Auto makes its debut, setting off a storm of controversy and complaints that it glorifies street crime. The controversy continues to build as sequels are periodically introduced.

      1997: An unnamed physician who provides abortion services is murdered in Rochester, New York.

      1997: In San Jose, California, officials use an injunction and public nuisance laws to prevent local gangs from congregating on city streets. The California Supreme Court subsequently rejects gang members' attempts to invalidate the injunction and the laws.

      1998: In January, Officer Robert Sanderson is murdered while protecting an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

      1998: In October, Dr. Barnett Slepian, an abortion provider, is murdered in Amherst, New York.

      1998: The four states with the largest number of active gangs are identified as California (363), Illinois (261), Texas (156), and Florida (125).

      1998: According to official government reports, 13,000,000 Americans used illicit drugs during the year.

      1999: Unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo, while reaching for his wallet, is shot and killed by four New York City police officers who believe he matches the description of a serial rapist. All four are acquitted, inspiring public outcry over racial profiling.

      1999: On April 20, in Littleton, Colorado, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold initiate a massacre at Columbine High School, killing 12 classmates and one teacher.

      1999: The National Youth Gang Survey reports that 90 percent of all gang members are male; 79 percent are Hispanic or African American; 71 percent are between the ages of 15 and 24; and 16 percent are under the age of 14.

      2000: After the Supreme Court overturns the Gang Congregation Ordinance on the grounds of vagueness, Chicago's City Council enacts a new law giving police officers the authority to disperse gang members who are congregating solely for the purpose of establishing control over specific areas of the city.

      2002: While imprisoned for murder, Matias Reyes confesses to the rape and brutal assault of the Central Park Jogger, Trisha Meili, in 1989. In response to his confession, which is supported by DNA evidence, the previously charged Central Park Five are cleared of all charges.

      2002: The 14th state passes an Amber Alert law. A federal law is enacted the following year.

      2002: Forty percent of police agencies report that local gang activity has risen 50 percent that year.

      2002: The Department of Justice reports that 9,369 homicides have occurred in the United States.

      2003: The bipartisan Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act seeks to authorize $100 million in federal funding to assist local law enforcement in areas with intense gang activity. It takes two years to garner sufficient support to become law.

      2004: Former drug dealers Ronald Moten and Jauhar Abraham found Peaceoholics to fight violent crime in inner-city neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

      2005: Nine-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford is abducted from her home in Florida by a convicted sex offender who buries her alive after sexually assaulting her. In the aftermath, states begin passing Jessica's Law to enhance the tracking of released sex offenders through the use of DNA samples, ankle bracelets, and global positioning systems.

      2005: The 45th state passes its version of Megan's Law, requiring registration of known sex offenders. Many states also prohibit sex offenders from living near schools or other places where children gather.

      2005: Using statistics gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Violence Policy Center finds that homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans. Some 90 percent of those crimes are committed using guns.

      2005: Danny Ledonne, allegedly a former victim of bullying, releases Super Columbine Massacre, a free online role-playing game in which players take on the role of shooters Harris and Klebold.

      2006: Texas courts uphold blue laws requiring car dealerships to close on either Saturday or Sunday.

      2007: Despite a drop in the national violent crime rate, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, New Orleans, and Miami all report significant increases.

      2007: State legislatures in 26 states begin addressing sentencing laws as a means of preventing prisons from being used to train inmates in the perpetration of further crimes.

      2008: The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that there are 640 gangs with 17,250 members operating within the New England states.

      2009: Abortion provider Dr. George Tiller is murdered while attending church in Wichita, Kansas.

      2009: President George W. Bush releases a proposed budget slashing aid to state and local law enforcement agencies by $400 million.

      2009: In February, the Department of Justice issues the National Gang Threat Assessment Report stating that 1 million members of 20,000 street, prison, and biker gangs operating in the United States commit approximately 80 percent of all crimes.

      2009: On February 11, Jack Thompson, an Alabama attorney, files suit against the creators and marketers of the Grand Theft Auto video game, charging them with inciting a teenager to go on a game-inspired rampage that resulted in the deaths of two police officers and a dispatcher.

      2009: In Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2, a gunman carrying a semiautomatic weapon opens fire at a backyard party memorializing two men previously slain by a neighborhood gang. The 12 victims include a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old child.

      2010: In June, 52 people are shot by Chicago gang members in a single weekend. The following weekend brings the death of 29 others. The violence leads the Supreme Court to overturn a citywide ban on handguns.

      2010: The number participating in the National Night Out program expands to 37 million.

      2011: The Central Park Five bring suit against the city of New York, asking for $50 million each in damages for being falsely accused in the 1989 attack of the Central Park Jogger, Trisha Meili.

      2012: On February 26, 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin is shot dead by 28-year-old white George Zimmerman while walking home from the convenience store. Because of Florida's “stand your ground” law, Zimmerman feels his actions are justified as self-defense, as he claims that he felt threatened. The circumstances surrounding the case inspire a nationwide conversation about stand your ground laws and self-defense.

      2012: On June 24, the Supreme Court rules in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for minors committing certain major crimes are a violation of Eighth Amendment prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment, requiring 39 states to amend their criminal statutes. The issue of what to do about 2,100 inmates serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles remains to be addressed.

      2012: On July 20, James Holmes opens fire with a semiautomatic weapon at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people are killed, 58 are wounded. Holmes's apartment is discovered to be booby-trapped with explosive devices, necesitating the evacuation of nearby homes for several days.

      2012: On August 5, white supremacist and discharged soldier Wade Michael Page enters a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and opens fire, killing six before fatally shooting himself in the head after being fired upon by the responding officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy (who was himself shot 15 times).

      2012: Colorado and Washington become the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, with age and other restrictions.

      2012: Voters in California pass Proposition 36, reforming the state's infamous “Three Strikes law” requiring draconian mandatory minimum sentences; the law had become responsible for California's prison overpopulation and exacerbated state budget problems.

      2012: On the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 26, for the first time in recent memory, New York City goes a full day without a single report of violent crime. New York City also makes the news for launching an initiative with investment bank Goldman Sachs to fund “social investments” aimed at reducing youth incarceration rates through programs funded by private investors.

      2012: New York State announces a first-in-the-nation change to its state bar requirements, requiring 50 hours of pro bono service from any applicant to the bar. One of the aims of the change is to improve legal access for poor criminal defendants.

      2012: On December 14, Adam Lanza shoots and kills his mother Nancy before driving to the school where she sometimes worked, Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. There he kills 20 children and six adults, in the second-deadliest school shooting in American history. Lanza, who commits suicide before he could be apprehended, is alternately described as mentally ill and suffering from Aspergers syndrome. The gun he uses for the mass murder belongs to his mother, with whom he lived, raising questions about firearm access and mental health.

      2013: Despite initiatives by gun control advocates after the Aurora shooting, it is not until the Sandy Hook shooting that the president and vice president create a special task force to investigate and suggest immediate changes. In January 2013, President Barack Obama issues a series of executive orders related to gun control and school safety on the advice of Vice President Joe Biden's task force.

      Elizabeth RholetterPurdy, Independent Scholar
    • Glossary

      • AMBER alerts: Message system used to spread alerts about missing children or young people by disseminating information through media, electronic billboards, and the Internet. The alerts are initiated immediately after a disappearance is reported because the first hours are considered the most critical in locating a missing person's whereabouts and apprehending kidnappers.
      • America's Most Wanted: Long-running television show that has helped apprehend more than 1,100 wanted criminals who were being sought in connection with crimes such as murder, rape, child molestation, and gang violence. Fox announced in May 2011 that the last regular show would be aired on June 18 but assured fans that reruns would continue to air, supplemented by periodic specials. Host John Walsh started the show in 1988 following the kidnapping and murder of his 7-year-old son Adam. That case is still unsolved.
      • Arrestee Drug Monitoring Abuse Program (ADAM): Federal drug abuse monitoring program that replaced Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) program in 1998. Continuing through 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice used ADAM to collect samples and oral responses from arrestees at targeted sites for purposes of tracking drug use and identifying relevant behavioral patterns.
      • Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM II): Federal drug abuse monitoring program instituted in 2007 that continues the work of ADAM I while gathering new data on metham-phetamine usage.
      • Bloods: Gang that started in South Central Los Angeles in the early 1970s to combat the growing power of the Crips. In 1998, the Bloods were propelled into the public eye as a result of the movie Colors starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall.
      • Blue laws: Laws enacted to enforce moral codes that range from restrictions on the sale of alcohol to the banning of all commerce on Sundays.
      • Bootlegging: Illegal production, transport, and sale of controlled or illegal substances including but not limited to alcohol, firearms, and illegally copied music and movies.
      • Bounty hunters: Individuals who track down fugitives for monetary gain. In practice, modern bounty hunters are most often used to track down anyone who has skipped bail or who has failed to show up for scheduled court appearances.
      • Broken Windows Theory: A theory introduced in a 1982 article by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling that argued that the appearance of disorder and neglect in a neighborhood (e.g., presence of broken windows in a building), was associated with and encouraged increased vandalism and other criminal activity.
      • Burglary: A crime defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Uniform Crime Reporting program as involving unlawful entry into a structure to commit a theft or felony; the use of force is not required.
      • Bystander effect: The social-psychological phenomenon that dictates that members of a large group of witnesses to a crime are less likely to offer assistance than members of smaller groups witnessing a crime.
      • Child molester: Generally carrying connotations of sexual deviance, a child molester is literally one who annoys, interferes, or meddles with a minor with the intention of troubling or harming him or her.
      • Code of the street: An unwritten but widely accepted code of behavior that often prevents witnesses and other criminals from testifying against perpetrators of crimes because of the fear of physical retaliation against themselves or others.
      • Community policing: Partnerships established between law enforcement officials and the public that focus on reducing crime and improving the quality of life in particular cities and neighborhoods.
      • CompStat: A computer analysis program started by Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple and others in New York City in 1984 to identify high crime areas where potential crimes were likely to occur and prevent them from taking place. Other cities subsequently adopted the model for their own use.
      • Confidence game: Fraudulent activities in which deception is used to deprive a person of items of value by exploiting that person's confidence or trust. Con games are generally assumed to exploit the dishonesty or greed of the victim as well, for instance, by promising to let in on a scheme that will reward them with a large sum of (unearned) money.
      • Crips: Predominately African American gang founded in Los Angeles in 1967 by Raymond Washington and Stanley Tookie Williams III that has evolved into a loose network of gangs. Their chief rival is the Bloods.
      • Cultural transmission: A socialization process by which particular group norms and values become internalized by individual members of a group. The term has been used to explain the adherence of members to norms and values established by particular street gangs.
      • Deterrence: The use of punishment to prevent criminal offenses. This assumes that potential and actual perpetrators knowledge of possible criminal sentences prevent them from committing crimes; the punishment of a criminal offender prevents recidivism; and the incapacitation of a criminal offender, for instance by incarceration, in order to prevent his further criminal activity.
      • Drive-by shooting: A term used to describe the hit-and-run tactics of modern gang members who use them to retaliate against other gang members but who often kill innocent bystanders.
      • Drug courts: Special courts established to deal with problems that derive from alcohol and drug addiction among criminal offenders and parents whose welfare cases are pending.
      • Drug subculture: Countercultures associated with use of a particular drug such as cannabis or marijuana. These subcultures may also be associated with other subcultures as in the case of the perceived association between certain types of music such as reggae, hip hop, or rave.
      • Drug Use Forecasting program (DUF): A program used by the federal government between 1987 and 1997 that gathered data on self-reported drug use of juveniles and adults who had been arrested at targeted sites.
      • Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition amendment ratified in January 1919. Once it became effective in January of the following year, it prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquor throughout the United States. It was the first and only time in history that an amendment restricted the behavior of Americans rather than protecting their rights or changing the way in which the national government worked. With legal access to liquor blocked, many Americans procured it by illegal means, and organized crime flourished.
      • Excessive bails and fines: The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects those accused of crimes from being charged with excessive bails and fines. Courts have generally interpreted this to mean that the punishment must fit the crime. They also take into account such factors as the seriousness of the crime in question, the financial status of the accused, and the flight risk of the accused.
      • Felony crimes: Established at the state level, felony crimes may vary among jurisdictions, but generally they involve crimes carrying penalties that can range from six months in prison to the death penalty. Since 1963 with Gideon v. Wainwright, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted to require that courts must appoint attorneys in felony cases in which individuals are unable to afford legal representation.
      • Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2005: With bipartisan support, the act enhanced support for fighting gang activity in the United States. It also increased criminal penalties while directing additional resources to protecting the public and expanding prevention programs.
      • Grand Theft Autovideo game: Controversial from the outset of its 1997 debut, the video game sets the players against law enforcement by allowing them to attack police officers, shoot them, set them on fire, or even decapitate them. While continuing their spree of street crime, players are free to attack other characters at will. The game's creators have been accused of promoting violence through the original game and in several sequels.
      • Guardian Angels: Founded in 1979 to fight rampant crime in the Bronx as a group of 13 unarmed volunteers. By the early 21st century, the group had grown to 140 chapters throughout the world and had updated its mission statement to target bullying in schools and making cyberspace safe in addition to the ongoing battle against street crime.
      • Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914: Act in which Congress attempted to identify anyone involved in importing, exporting, manufacturing, or distributing either opium or cocaine by requiring such individuals to register with the federal government and pay taxes on their activities.
      • Hate crime: Threats, harassment, or violent acts that target victims because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or mental disability. While hate crimes have been committed throughout American history, the term only came to be used popularly in the 1980s following a wave of such crimes.
      • Hells Angels: Popular motorcycle gang that was established as the result of a bitter gang rivalry between existing groups that had surfaced in the wake of World War II when army surplus made motorcycles easily affordable to veterans craving adventure. The name was derived from the nickname used for bomber squadrons during the two World Wars.
      • Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act:
      • Federal law named in honor of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling who was kidnapped from his Minnesota home in 1989 and never seen again. The law attempted to bring state laws in line with federal standards on sex-offender registration by withholding funds from states that failed to comply.
      • LA Noire: Rockstar's video game in which the player fights street crime in the role of a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. Achievements include killing 100 “bad guys” and shooting 30 of them in the head.
      • Larceny: The crime of taking possession of the personal property of another person.
      • Legalized gambling: Practice of making gambling activities such as lotteries, betting, bookmaking, slot machines, and video poker legal within specific jurisdictions in order to mitigate effects of illegal gambling and increase public income through either taxes or direct profits, as is the case with state lotteries. Those profits may be earmarked for specific programs such as education.
      • Loitering laws: State laws and local ordinances that ban hanging around in public places in the absence of valid reasons. Such laws are regularly used to limit street crimes such as gang-related activity, drug dealing, prostitution, begging, public drunkenness, and solicitation. Courts have frequently found loitering laws unconstitutional because they are deemed vague, unclear in their interpretation, and limit the freedom of ordinary citizens to engage in normal activity.
      • Megan's Laws: A series of state and federal laws that honor Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl murdered by a known sex offender who lived in her neighborhood. The laws call for the registration of such offenders whenever they move into a neighborhood and require the police to alert members of the local community to their presence.
      • “Minnesota Strip”: Section of New York's Eighth Avenue that in the late 1960s and early 1970s came to be heavily identified with young runaways from the midwest, particularly Minnesota, who were solicited for the purposes of prostitution and sexual exploitation as soon as they arrived in the city.
      • Miranda v. Arizona: A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963 establishing that persons held in police custody must be informed of their rights to legal counsel and to refrain from making statements (“the right to remain silent”) that might incriminate them.
      • Misdemeanor crimes: Generally a less serious crime, typically punishable with a fine and/or incarceration for one year or less to be a misdemeanor.
      • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC): Resource center and clearinghouse that assists families and law enforcement agencies in searching for missing children and young people and in working to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. By 2011, NCMEC had handled 675,000 sexual exploitation cases, many which were identified through the CyberTipline, and had helped recover 135,000 missing children and youths.
      • National Night Out: Annual event that since 1983 has brought individuals, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations, and local officials together to work toward crime and drug prevention at the local level.
      • NCVS: The National Crime Victimization Survey, a method of measuring the incidence of crime using sampling and surveys of crime victims, begun in 1972 to address perceived shortcomings of the Uniform Crime Report.
      • Nuisance laws: Umbrella term for laws dealing with health, morals, safety, comfort, convenience, and the overall well-being of local communities. Depending on the severity of the offense in question, nuisance laws are punishable by fines, jail sentences, or both. Nuisance laws are regularly employed to limit gang activity and control illegal gambling. Courts have frequently found that they are unconstitutional because the need to cover general offenses results in vague language being employed.
      • Pandering: Violation under state law that deals with procuring customers for prostitutes. Efforts to clean up prostitution rings frequently result in pimps being charged with pandering violations.
      • Pedophile: From a psychological viewpoint, a pedophile is one who has fantasies, urges, or behaviors of a recurrent, intense, and sexually arousing nature that involve children 13 or younger. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with child molester among the general public.
      • Police observation devices (PODs): Commonly known as “blue light” surveillance because of their flashing blue lights, PODs are remote-controlled surveillance devices with zoom capability that have been used in large cities to combat drug and gang activity. Critics have questioned their use as crime deterrents and insist that they violate the right to privacy.
      • Prohibition: The banning of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of all alcoholic beverages other than those used for medicinal or religious purposes. In the United States, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment established Prohibition in 1920, resulting in an upsurge in organized crime. Prohibition ended with the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933.
      • Prostitution: The act of accepting financial remuneration for engaging in sexual acts. In the United States, prostitution is illegal in all states except Nevada, where it is strictly regulated and controlled. Since the passage of the Mann Act in 1918, it has been illegal in the United States to transport individuals across state lines for the purposes of prostitution, debauchery, or other immoral activities.
      • “Prowling by Auto”: Local laws that ban the use of motorized vehicles in the wandering and strolling of public streets without a clear and lawful purpose or objective in mind. Such laws are often used in conjunction with vagrancy and loitering laws to keep gang members and drug dealers off the streets in order to reduce incidences of street crime.
      • Racial profiling: The controversial practice by which law enforcement targets groups of individuals simply because they are believed to be likely to commit certain types of crimes because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Racial profiling has been used to target African Americans driving in areas that are associated with drug running and Arab Americans because of the perception that they may be involved in terrorist activity.
      • Recreational drugs: Substances containing phar-macologic characteristics that are ingested for the purposes of personal pleasure or individual satisfaction rather than for medical reasons. Alcohol, barbiturates, amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin all come under the label of recreational drugs, as do caffeine and cola products.
      • Road rage: Aggressive or violent behavior in which motorists engage after they become angry at other drivers for activities such as cutting in front of them, following too closely, or failing to yield the right of way. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stipulates that the action in question must involve a combination of three or more moving vehicles in which life and property are endangered.
      • Robbery: A crime of theft by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear.
      • Sexual exploitation of children: General term for offenses against minors that include using them in sex rings, portraying them in child pornography, and forcing them to participate in sex tourism or engage in child prostitution. The term also includes using various forms of technology, such as the Internet, to violate the rights of minors for sexual purposes.
      • Sexual victimization of children: A term that encompasses sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, and sexual abduction of minors.
      • Speakeasies: Institutions that sold illegal liquor during the Prohibition era that were frequently associated with racketeering and organized crime.
      • Speak-outs: Public meetings at which people gather to express their views on particular issues. Speak-outs were widely used by feminists of the 1960s and 1970s to focus public attention on the need to make public streets safe for women. They argued that simply telling females to stay off the street was punishing them rather than would-be rapists and predators.
      • Stonewall: The Greenwich Village bar in which rioting took place in 1969 and which provided the impetus for the gay rights movement. On June 28, 1970, the first anniversary of the rioting, the first Gay Rights Parade was held in New York City.
      • Stop and Frisk: A physical search of an individual suspected of carrying a concealed weapon by a police officer in cases where the suspect has not been formally arrested. The search is usually conducted by an officer “patting down” a person's outer garments.
      • “Stop Snitching” movements: Efforts to intimidate potential witnesses to crimes and paid police informers to keep them from testifying against modern criminals such as drug dealers and gang members. The “Stop Snitching” logo has become so common on T-shirts and hats that such items have been banned in courtrooms throughout the United States.
      • Stranger danger: Popular myth promoted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1950s and 1960s that all child molesters were evil-looking strangers who lurked behind trees and lured children into traps by offering them candy.
      • Street Crime: Popular role-playing video game in which the player takes on the role of gangsters, casino owners, gamblers, prostitutes, pimps, or drug traffickers.
      • Street gangs: While experts do not always agree on what constitutes a gang, street gangs are generally conceived of as groups of young people who hang out in particular neighborhoods where they are recognized according to a self-proclaimed identity by both members of the street gang and by those who observe them. The term also carries the assumption that members have committed various criminal offenses that cause them to be viewed in a negative light by both police and the neighborhood at large.
      • Streetwalker: A prostitute who solicits customers by standing on or walking the streets. Most streetwalkers habituate particular areas.
      • Super Columbine Massacrevideo game: Controversial online video game in which the player takes on the role of the two teenagers who engaged in a killing spree at Columbine High School in 1999. Players are required to kill classmates that are perceived of as “enemies.”
      • Sutton's Law: According to American legend, when notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he continued to rob banks, he replied “because that's where the money is.” The phrase became an integral part of popular culture, and the medical community adopted it for use in training medical students to look for the most obvious causes first when diagnosing medical problems.
      • Tammany Hall: Headquarters of the Democratic political machine that operated in New York from the 1790s to the 1960s, exerting tight control on all elements of city politics. The most well-known of the Tammany political bosses was William M. “Boss” Tweed.
      • Three Strikes law: A statute enacted by some state governments that requires a greater sentence (typically, a life sentence) for the third instance of a serious criminal offense.
      • Terry Stop: In 1968 in Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court held that stop and frisk searches are not a violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. This ruling allows police officers to engage in such searches in cases where they have probable cause to suspect that a crime is about to be committed even if the search is conducted without first obtaining a search warrant.
      • Turf wars: Battle for control of a particular neighborhood area or of certain rackets such as gambling or the drug market. The term is believed to have originated in the late 19th century to describe battles over control of gambling activity in horse racing.
      • Twenty-First Amendment: The amendment that ended Prohibition. Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to authorize the sale of 3.2 percent beer in early 1933. By the end of the year, enough states had ratified the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution to officially end Prohibition and establish an environment that was less conducive to the widespread criminal activities that had flourished throughout the Prohibition years.
      • UCR: The Uniform Crime Report, a reporting system for crimes, created in the United States in 1930. State and local law enforcement agencies provide data to the FBI, which then aggregates it and publishes the results. The reports are used to track the incidence of crime in different locations.
      • Unreasonable search and seizure: Because the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that Americans must be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,” the Supreme Court determined in Mapp v. Ohio in 1961 that the police may not use evidence in court that has been obtained during illegal search and seizures. Subsequent decisions have given the police considerable leeway in conducting searches in which they have probable cause to suspect individuals of committing particular crimes.
      • Vagrants: Individuals with no permanent residence who roam the streets without a clear purpose or objective in mind. Vagrancy laws are generally employed at the local level to keep individuals off the streets in order to prevent them from committing street crimes or from acting as public nuisances.
      • Vehicle prowling: Criminal acts in which perpetrators unlawfully enter vehicles for the purposes of theft or other criminal activity. Such crimes are frequently committed by gangs who become highly proficient in carrying out their crimes. These gangs are so skilled that they can break into a vehicle within 30 seconds and complete the commission of their crimes within two minutes.
      • Violence Against Women Act: Act passed in 1994 to protect the civil rights of women. An amendment in 2000 established the Office on Violence Against Women, which has a major role in establishing policies that affect the safety of women in the United States.
      • Weed and Seed: A strategy sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice that brings law enforcement and local communities together to reduce violent crimes and control drug abuse and gang activity in areas that have been identified as high-crime neighborhoods. The “weeding” involves removing criminals and criminal activities from the designated areas, and “seeding” is carried out by involving social service agencies in activities such as prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood restoration in order to generate an environment in which criminal activities are unable to thrive.
      • Wild One, The: Marlon Brando epic film of 1953 in which the actor plays Johnny Strabler, the leader of the 40-member motorcycle gang, The Black Rebels, who terrorize a small town after losing a motorcycle competition.
      • Wyos: Violent street gang that terrorized New York in the mid-1800s.
      Elizabeth RholetterPurdy, Independent Scholar

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      Appendix: Street Crime Trends in America's 25 Largest Cities over the past 24 Years

      Official records of street crime in the 25 largest cities in the United States have largely been documented within the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, which has served as a primary source of the country's street crime statistics since its inception in 1929. The UCR was developed as a source of reliable information about crime committed in the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began collecting and managing this information in 1930 and continues to do so today. The FBI's collection of UCR data serves as a reliable publicly available source of information to examine street crime trends in America's cities.

      The offenses reported in the UCR primarily contain serious offenses because these are most likely to be reported with some regularity, especially across multiple jurisdictions, to police. Defining these crimes is also extremely important because standardized definitions of each type of offense must be in place for law enforcement authorities to accurately categorize recorded crime. The UCR offenses for each of the top 25 largest cities in the United States covered here are broken into two categories: (1) crimes committed against persons and (2) property-related crimes.

      Crimes committed against persons include (1) murder and non-negligent manslaughter, which includes “the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another. Deaths caused by negligence, attempts to kill, assaults to kill, suicides, and accidental deaths are excluded;” (2) forcible rape: “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Rapes by force and attempts or assaults to rape, regardless of the age of the victim, are included. Statutory offenses (no force used—victim under age of consent) are excluded;” (3) robbery: “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear;” and (4) aggravated assault: “An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011.

      Property-related crimes include (1) burglary: “the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft. Attempted forcible entry is included (also known as breaking and entering);” (2) larceny-theft: “The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another. Examples are thefts of bicycles, motor vehicle parts and accessories, shoplifting, pocket-picking, or the stealing of any property or article that is not taken by force and violence or by fraud. Attempted larcenies are included. Embezzlement, confidence games, forgery, check fraud, etc., are excluded;” (3) motor vehicle theft: “The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is self-propelled and runs on land surface and not on rails. Motorboats, construction equipment, airplanes, and farming equipment are specifically excluded from this category;” and (4) property crime, which is a total crime index based on the sum of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011.

      This review of street crime in the 25 largest U.S. cities was based on the rate of each of these types of crime. These rates were calculated by taking the total number of a given type of crime, dividing this number by the population of the appropriate city, and then multiplying by 100,000. This calculation adjusts each city's number of crimes to a number of crimes relative to the size of the population of that city. Although this procedure produces a rate of a crime according to a city's population and these rates can be used to track trends in crime within a certain city, these calculations should not be used as direct comparisons between cities, for several reasons, according to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011. One reason to avoid direct comparisons using these crime rates is related to each city's unique characteristics that cannot be equally compared to others. This can include differences in historical development, expansion, and geographic size. Cities are also likely to have minor variations in their law enforcement practices and they may allocate varying levels of resources toward law enforcement practices. Both of these factors can directly affect the number and type of crimes reported and investigated by the police. Considering these cautionary notes, the crime rates reported here have been used to observe trends within the top 25 cities for the 24-year period spanning 1985–2009.

      The street crime rates in the top 25 largest cities in the United States come together to create national trends in these crimes (Figures 1 and 2). The trends in all four measures of street crime committed against persons declined over this 24-year period. Aggravated assault, the most prevalent street crime committed against another person, dropped 14 percent from a rate of 304 per 100,000 in 1985 to 263 per 100,000 in 2009. Robbery declined 36 percent in 24 years from 209 per 100,000 in 1985 to 133 per 100,000. The 22 percent decrease in forcible rape rates resulted in a drop from 37 per 100,000 in 1985 to 29 per 100,000 in 2009. A 38 percent decline was observed with murder and non-negligent manslaughter over this time period dropping from 8 to 5.

      Figure 1 Crimes committed against persons: national estimates
      Figure 2 Property-related crime: national estimates

      Property-related street crime also exhibited a downward trend during this period. The overall national property crime rate dropped from 4,666 per 100,000 in 1985 to 3,036 per 100,000 in 2009. Larceny-theft, the most prevalent type of property-related crime, fell 29 percent over this period from 2,911 per 100,000 in 1985 to 2,061 in 2009. A larger drop was observed for motor vehicle theft, falling 44 percent from 464 per 100,000 in 1985 to 259 in 2009. Burglary dropped 45 percent from 1,292 per 100,000 in 1985 to 716 in 2009.

      These national trends have been associated with trends of the same forms of street crime in American cities. David McDowall and Colin Loftin have shown larger U.S. cities (i.e., those with a population greater than 500,000) to have crime rates which were more likely to be accounted for by the national trend compared to smaller cities (those with a population smaller than 250,000). Individual city trends have also been matched to an overall national trend with estimates predicting anywhere from 54 percent to 75 percent of Americans, depending on the size of the city they lived in, would experience the national trend in street crime.

      Although American cities may follow the national trend in street crime there are many advantages to examining them individually, especially since no two American cities are exactly alike. Although the majority of America's largest cities have experienced some degree of growth in the past 24 years, for example, others have decreased in size (as seen in Table 1). This review of the distinct trends of street crime in each of the top 25 U.S. cities offers a snapshot of each city's changes in crime during this time period.

      Table 1 Population change of 25 largest U.S. cities from 1985 to 2009

      The patterns for street crime committed against persons in New York City are presented for this time period in Figure 3. The largest drop occurred among forcible rape with an 82 percent reduction from 54 per 100,000 in 1985 to 10 per 100,000 in 2009. Despite the peak robbery rate of 1,370 per 100,000 in 1990, there was an 80 percent decrease in the city's robbery rate from 1,107 in 1985 to 221 in 2009. Murder and non-neg-ligent manslaughter also peaked in 1990 at 31 per 100,000 with a 71 percent drop from 19 in 1985 to 6 in 2009.

      Figure 3 Crimes committed against persons: New York: City

      Similar downward trends were also observed among property-related crimes during this period in New York City (Figure 4). Overall, there was a 74 percent drop in rates of all property crime. More specifically, the motor vehicle theft rate declined 88 percent from 1,106 per 100,000 in 1985 to 127 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate dropped from 1,738 in 1985 to 224 per 100,000 in 2009: an 87 percent decrease. The larceny-theft rate, which peaked at 4,199 per 100,000 in 1988, steadily decreased to 1,340 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 4 Property-related crime: New York City

      In Los Angeles, California, the second-largest city in the United States (Figure 5), the robbery rate and the aggravated assault rate reached their heights in 1991 at 1,118 per 100,000 and 1,324 per 100,000, respectively. There was a 64 percent overall drop in the robbery rate from 1985 to 2009 and a 60 percent overall drop in aggravated assault over this 24-year span. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter peaked later, in 1993 at 31 per 100,000, but still exhibited an overall decline of 67 percent, from 24 per 100,000 to 8 per 100,000 from 1985 to 2009. The forcible rape rate was highest in 1985 at 73 per 100,000 and steadily decreased to 24 per 100,000, resulting in a 68 percent drop.

      Figure 5 Crimes committed against persons: Los Angeles, California

      Figure 6 shows the overall property crime rate in Los Angeles in 1985 was 7,581 per 100,000 during this year and dropped to 2,449 in 2009: a 68 percent decrease. The burglary rate and the larceny-theft rate displayed similar patterns. There was a 76 percent decline in burglary dropping from a rate of 2,007 per 100,000 in 1985 to 479 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of larceny-theft fell 62 percent from 3,953 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,492 in 2009.

      Figure 6 Property-related crime: Los Angeles, California

      After peaking in 1991, the rate of aggravated assault in Chicago, Illinois (the third-largest city in the United States), and the rate of robbery both steadily dropped (Figure 7). The rate of aggravated assault fell 63 percent from 1,502 per 100,000 in 1991 to 552 per 100,000 in 2009. There was a nearly identical 64 percent drop in the robbery rate from 1,557 per 100,000 in 1991 to 557 in 2009. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter peaked in 1992 at 33 per 100,000 and fell 51 percent to 16 per 100,000 by 2009.

      Figure 7 Crimes committed against persons: Chicago, Illinois

      Chicago's property-related street crime rates exhibited slightly different trends (see Figure 8) compared to the city's rates of crimes against persons. The rate of burglary, for example, fell 52 percent from 1,756 per 100,000 in 1985 to 847 per 100,000 in 2004, but increased slightly to 930 per 100,000 by 2009. The larceny-theft rate reached its peak in 1991 at 4,684 per 100,000 and dropped 41 percent to 2,754 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of motor-vehicle theft followed a similar decline.

      Figure 8 Property-related crime: Chicago, Illinois

      Houston, Texas, was America's fourth-largest city in 2009 with a population over 2 million (Table 1). The rates of street crimes against persons fluctuated from 1985 to 2009 (Figure 9). The rate of aggravated assault, for example, was 269 per 100,000 in 1985, swelled to a high of 739 per 100,000 in 1993, and settled at 577 per 100,000 in 2009: an overall increase of 114 percent. In contrast, the prevalence of the other three types of street crime committed against persons in Houston largely decreased during this time. The rate of robbery was 549 per 100,000 in 1985 and, after peaking at 833 per 100,000 in 1991, it decreased to 500 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of forcible rape also decreased, dropping 63 percent from 98 per 100,000 in 1985 to 36 per 100,000 in 2009. Lastly, murder and non-negligent manslaughter also fell from a rate of 26 per 100,000 in 1985 to 13 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 9 Crimes committed against persons: Houston, Texas

      Property-related street crime rates in Houston all followed similar downward patterns (Figure 10). The largest decrease was in the rate of motor vehicle theft, dropping 65 percent from 1,817 per 100,000 to 642 per 100,000. The burglary rate dropped from 2,302 per 100,000 to 1,288 per 100,000 and the larceny-theft rate displayed the smallest decline (12 percent) from 3,865 per 100,000 to 3,389.

      Figure 10 Property-related crime: Houston, Texas

      The population of Phoenix, Arizona, grew to over 1.5 million, nearly an 80 percent increase, to achieve the status of America's fifth-largest city in 2009 (Table 1). Despite the growth experienced by this city, the rates of street crime against persons declined over this 24-year period (Figure 11). The smallest decline occurred in the rate of robbery (14 percent), falling from 272 per 100,000 in 1985 to 235 per 100,000 in 2009. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter dropped 24 percent from 10 per 100,000 in 1985 to 8 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate decreased from 71 per 100,000 in 1985 to 33 per 100,000 in 2009, and the rate of aggravated assault also fell from 491 per 100,000 in 1985 to 271 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 11 Crimes committed against persons: Phoenix, Arizona

      Motor vehicle theft in Phoenix (Figure 12) fluctuated somewhat erratically. Starting at 552 per 100,000 in 1985, the motor vehicle theft rate almost quadrupled to 2,133 per 100,000 in 1995, subsided quickly, and then surged again to 1,828 per 100,000 in 2003. Shortly thereafter, the motor vehicle theft rate dropped to 607 per 100,000 in 2009. Multiple peaks in the larceny-theft rate also emerged: one in 1989 at 6,174 per 100,000 and another in 1995 at 5,749 per 100,000 before dwindling to 2,482 by 2009. The rate of burglary exhibited a fairly steady decline with a 61 percent drop from 2,621 in 1985 to 1,019 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 12 Property-related crime: Phoenix, Arizona

      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was among the few of the largest cities in the United States to experience a decrease (6 percent) in population from 1985 to 2009 (Table 1). The shrinking population of the city occurred at a time when several types of street crimes against persons were on the rise (Figure 13). The robbery rate grew the least (2 percent) from 572 per 100,000 in 1985 to 584 per 100,000 in 2009, despite spiking up to 890 in 1995 and again up to 749 in 2006. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate also grew modestly (17 percent) from 17 per 100,000 in 1985 to 20 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of aggravated assault grew the most (71 percent) from 337 per 100,000 in 1985 to 577 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate was the only one to decrease in comparison, dropping 7 percent from 62 per 100,000 to 58 per 100,000.

      Figure 13 Crimes committed against persons: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Some property-related street crime also increased in Philadelphia during this time (Figure 14). The larceny-theft rate increased a total of 12 percent from 1985 to 2009 with three distinct peaks: 3,063 per 100,000 in 1989, 3,029 in 1995, and 3,475 in 1999. On the other hand, the burglary rate declined 39 percent from 1,159 per 100,000 to 709 per 100,000 while the motor vehicle theft rate declined 41 percent from 770 to 451 during this time period.

      Figure 14 Property-related crime: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Both population and the rate of aggravated assault in Las Vegas, Nevada, exhibited growth, although not to such a great extent, with a 67 percent rise from 336 per 100,000 in 1985 to 562 per 100,000 in 2009 (Figure 15). In comparison, the other three types of street crime committed against persons declined. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter displayed the largest drop (35 percent), followed by a 17 percent drop in the forcible rape rate (from 61 per 100,000 in 1985 to 51 per 100,000 in 2009), and a 15 percent decline (384 per 100,000 in 1985 to 326 per 100,000 in 2009) in the robbery rate.

      Figure 15 Crimes committed against persons: Las Vegas, Nevada

      The most prominent spikes in Las Vegas, Nevada, appear in the pattern of motor vehicle theft, which stood at 670 per 100,000 in 1985 (Figure 16). This rate oscillated just over 1,000 per 100,000 from 1992 through 1995, reaching a peak of 1,557 in 2005. The motor vehicle theft rate then fell 57 percent in four years to 648 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate dropped 55 percent from 2,184 per 100,000 in 1985 to 981 per 100,000 in 2009 while the larceny-theft rate also fell 55 percent from 4,058 per 100,000 to 1,832 per 100,000.

      Figure 16 Property-related crime: Las Vegas, Nevada

      San Antonio, Texas, also experienced a sizable (59 percent) amount of growth from 1985 to 2009. During this time, aggravated assault increased 63 percent, peaking in 2002 at 593 per 100,000 before dropping to 323 per 100,000 in 2009 (Figure 17). In contrast, the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate steadily declined after peaking in 1993 at 22 per 100,000 to 7 per 100,000 in 2009. The robbery rate also steadily declined to 148 per 100,000 in 2000 after peaking at 395 per 100,000 in 1991, but then the rate rose again to 195 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate was at its peak in 1985 at 96 per 100,000 before dropping to a low of 39 per 100,000 in 2002 and rising slightly to 46 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 17 Crimes committed against persons: San Antonio, Texas

      Property-related street crime in San Antonio generally declined over this 24-year period (Figure 18). Larceny-theft displayed the smallest overall decrease (8 percent) declining slightly from 5,350 per 100,000 in 1985 to 4,926 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle theft rate dropped more dramatically (51 percent) from 1985 to 2009, after peaking at 1,607 per 100,000 in 1989. The burglary rate also declined sharply from a high of 3,591 per 100,000 in 1987 to 1,322 in 2009.

      Figure 18 Property-related crime: San Antonio, Texas

      The rates of street crimes committed against persons in San Diego, California, peaked in the early 1990s and steadily declined afterward (Figure 19). The rate of aggravated assault, for example, peaked in 1992 at 768 per 100,000 and dropped to 279 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of forcible rape also peaked in 1992 at 42 per 100,000 and fell to 24 per 100,000 in 2009. The robbery rate reached its apex one year earlier in 1991 at 470 per 100,000 and dropped to 145 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter followed a similar trend, peaking in 1991 at 15 per 100,000 and steadily decreasing to 3 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 19 Crimes committed against persons: San Diego, California

      Property-related street crime in San Diego reached its height in 1989 (Figure 20). The overall rate of property crime peaked at 8,453 per 100,000 in 1989 and fell 71 percent to 2,453 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate, which crested at 1,592 per 100,000 in this same year, dropped 68 percent to 509 per 100,000 in 2009. The same trend was observed with the rate of larceny-theft falling 70 percent from a high of 4,532 per 100,000 in 1989 to 1,373 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of motor vehicle theft was also at its climax of 2,329 per 100,000 in 1989 before it dropped 76 percent to 570 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 20 Property-related crime: San Diego, California

      Street crime rates related to crimes against persons reached their height in Dallas, Texas, in the early 1990s (Figure 21). The rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter reached its apex in 1991 at 49 per 100,000 and declined relatively steadily to 13 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of robbery also peaked in 1991 at 1,094 per 100,000 and dropped 61 percent to 426 per 100,000 in 2009. The observed trend in the aggravated assault rate reached its climax in 1991 at 1,308 per 100,000 prior to falling 76 percent to 315 per 100,000 in 2009. The rate of forcible rape reached its height in 1990, at 134 per 100,000 and steadily declined to 38 per 100,000 by 2009.

      Figure 21 Crimes committed against persons: Dallas, Texas

      Property-related street crime trends in Dallas were similar to crimes against persons, but property-related street crimes were at their height slightly earlier in comparison (Figure 22). The rate of larceny-theft, for example, was 7,359 per 100,000 in 1985, rose to 8,442 per 100,000 in 1987, and dropped to 3,215 per 100,000 in 2009: an overall decrease of 56 percent. The burglary rate peaked just one year later, in 1988, at 4,180 per 100,000 prior to falling to 1,506 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle theft rate reached its height in 1989 at 2,740 per 100,000 before it fell to 810 per 100,000 by 2009.

      Figure 22 Property-related crime: Dallas, Texas

      The aggravated assault in San Jose, California, rate rose from 250 per 100,000 in 1985 to a high of 610 per 100,000 in 1995, decreased slightly before rising again to 493 per 100,000 in 2001, and dropped to 223 per 100,000 by 2009 (Figure 23). The robbery rate also oscillated over this period, dropping from 175 per 100,000 in 1985 to 76 per 100,000 in 2000, before rising to 107 per 100,000 by 2009. In contrast, the forcible rape rate exhibited a fairly steady 54 percent decline from 59 per 100,000 in 1985 to 27 per 100,000 in 2009. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate declined 63 percent from 1985 to 2009.

      Figure 23 Crimes committed against persons : San Jose, California

      The overall property crime rate, the burglary rate, the larceny-theft rate, and the motor vehicle theft rate in San Jose all dropped from 1985 to 2000 (Figure 24), when they reached their lowest levels. From 2000 onward, the burglary rate rose 31 percent from 298 per 100,000 to 392 per 100,000 by 2009. The larceny-theft rate also rose slightly (2 percent) during this decade from 1,407 per 100,000 in 2000 to 1,429 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle theft rate rose dramatically (93 percent) in the 2000s from 292 per 100,000 in 2000 to a high of 776 per 100,000 in 2006 before decreasing slightly to 564 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 24 Property-related crim e: San Jose, California

      Detroit, Michigan, was tied with another city (Baltimore, Maryland) for the largest population loss from 1985 to 2009 (Table 1). Three of the four measures of street crime rates committed against persons declined in Detroit during this time (Figure 25). The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate dropped 31 percent from 58 per 100,000 in 1985 to 40 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate fell 74 percent from 144 per 100,000 in 1985 to 37 per 100,000 by 2009, while the robbery rate decreased 58 percent from 1,538 per 100,000 in 1985 to 651 per 100,000 in 2009. In stark contrast, the aggravated assault rate increased 136 percent from 635 per 100,000 in 1985 to a high of 1,496 per 100,000 in 2005 before dropping slightly to 1,239 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 25 Crimes committed against persons: Detroit, Michigan

      Fairly consistent decreasing trends emerged among property-related street crime rates in Detroit (Figure 26). The motor vehicle theft rate dropped 59 percent from 3,452 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,432 per 100,000 in 2009, the larceny-theft rate fell 52 percent from 4,219 per 100,000 in 1985 to 2,045 per 100,000 in 2009, and the burglary rate decreased 44 percent from 3,703 per 100,000 to 2,091 per 100,000.

      Figure 26 Property-related crime: Detroit, Michigan

      Three of the street crime rates committed against persons declined in Honolulu, Hawai'i, from 1985 to 2009 (Figure 27). The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate decreased by about half from 4 per 100,000 in 1985 to 2 per 100,000 in 2009. The drop in the forcible rape rate was more modest (12 percent) declining from 30 per 100,000 in 1985 to 27 per 100,000 in 2009. The robbery rate also fell during this time from 118 per 100,000 to 96 per 100,000. The aggravated assault rate, in direct contrast, more than doubled from 68 per 100,000 in 1985 to 156 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 27 Crimes committed against persons: Honolulu, Hawai'i

      Property-related crime rates in Honolulu appeared to spike twice (Figure 28): first in 1995 and the second time in 2002. The burglary rate reached its peak in 1995 at 1,150 per 100,000 before rising again to a rate of 992 per 100,000 in 2002. The larceny-theft rate also reached its height in 1995 at 5,305 per 100,000 and surged again in 2002 to 4,137 per 100,000 before dropping to 2,607 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle theft rate followed a similar pattern, peaking at 845 per 100,000 in 1995, swelling again to 943 per 100,000 in 2002 prior to resting at 411 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 28 Property-related crime: Honolulu, Hawai'i

      Indianapolis, Indiana, is another U.S. city that experienced a significant amount (72 percent) of growth in the past 24 years (Table 1). The trends in street crime rates committed against persons in Indianapolis were mixed: the rates of two types of crime increased while two decreased (Figure 29). There was a slight (2 percent) overall decrease in the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate, after reaching a peak of 31 per 100,000 in 1997. The forcible rape rate also exhibited an overall decline (23 percent) settling at 57 per 100,000 in 2009. The robbery rate, in comparison, increased 27 percent from 381 per 100,000 in 1985 to a high of 728 in 1997, and then declined to 483 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate also increased, reaching its height of 1,217 per 100,000 in 1997 before falling to 648 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 29 Crimes committed against persons: Indianapolis, Indiana

      There were similar mixed trends in property-related street crime rates in Indianapolis (Figure 30). The burglary rate grew slightly (7 percent) from 1,741 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,871 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate also grew modestly (15 percent) from 2,953 in 1985 to 3,407 per 100,000 in 2009. In contrast, the motor vehicle theft rate fell slightly (10 percent) from 613 per 100,000 in 1985 to 551 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 30 Property-related crime: Indianapolis, Indiana

      Generally, the trends in street crime committed against persons in Jacksonville, Florida, increased from 1985 to 1990, but decreased steadily until 2009 (Figure 31). The aggravated assault rate increased from 634 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,070 per 100,000 in 1990 and fell to 506 per 100,000 by 2009. The robbery rate followed a similar pattern increasing from 448 per 100,000 in 1985 to 622 per 100,000 in 1990 and falling to 291 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate also peaked in 1990 at 111 per 100,000 and fell to 27 per 100,000 in 2009. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate reached its height at 28 per 100,000 in 1990 and fell to 12 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 31 Crimes committed against persons: Jacksonville, Florida

      Similar patterns were revealed in the rates of burglary and larceny-theft in Jacksonville (Figure 32). The burglary rate reached its climax in 1987 at 3,293 per 100,000 and fell consistently to 1,396 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate also reached its height in 1987 at 6,163 per 100,000 and dropped fairly steadily to 3,426 per 100,000 in 2009. In comparison, the motor vehicle theft rate did not reach its peak of 1,344 per 100,000 until 1993, but it decreased similarly to 336 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 32 Property-related crime: Jacksonville, FIorida

      Although the street crimes committed against persons in San Francisco, California, seemed to followed a downward trend, the rate of each type of crime rose and fell at different times (Figure 33). The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate, for instance, reached its high of 18 per 100,000 in 1993 and then fell to 6 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate was highest in 1985 at 70 per 100,000 and dropped 68 percent to 22 per 100,000 in 2009. The robbery rate rose from 697 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,148 in 1993 and declined to 423 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate rose from 517 per 100,000 in 1985 to 665 per 100,000 in 1990 and then decreased to 285 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 33 Crimes committed against persons: San Francisco, California

      In contrast to crime rates for offenses committed against persons, the rates of property-related crime in San Francisco reached their highest values in the same year: 1992 (Figure 34). The burglary rate reached a high of 1,576 per 100,000 in 1992 before falling to 642 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate peaked at 5,111 per 100,000 in 1992 and dropped to 3,013 in 2009, while the motor vehicle theft rate dropped from 1,687 per 100,000 in 1992 to 607 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 34 Property-related crime: San Francisco, California

      The rates of street crime committed against persons in Charlotte grew into the early 1990s, but then steadily declined from that point forward (Figure 35). The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate, which was 17 per 100,000 in 1985, swelled to 29 per 100,000 in 1993, and eventually fell to 8 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate was 67 per 100,000 in 1985 and grew to 101 per 100,000 in 1991 before dropping to 39 per 100,000 in 2009. Similarly, the robbery rate in 1985 was 334 per 100,000, which increased to 810 per 100,000 in 1990, and dropped to 302 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate was 945 per 100,000 in 1985, peaked at 1,452 per 100,000 in 1992, and decreased to 375 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 35 Crimes committed against persons: Charlottee, North Carolina

      Property-related street crime rates in Charlotte exhibited slightly varied trends relative to one another (Figure 36). For instance, the burglary rate, which was 2,551 per 100,000 in 1985, swelled to 3,428 per 100,000 in 1989 before eventually dropping to 1,262 per 100,000 in 2009. In contrast, the motor vehicle theft rate grew from 1985 (447 per 100,000) to 2005 (1,048 per 100,000) prior to falling below its 1985 value in 2009 (429 per 100,000). The larceny-theft rate increased from 1985 (5,495 per 100,000) to 1989 (7,039 per 100,000) and decreased from this point through 2009 (3,263 per 100,000).

      Figure 36 Property-related crime: Charlotte, North Carolina

      Some of the rates of street crime committed against persons in Austin, Texas, steadily decreased during this period while others fluctuated (Figure 37). For example, the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate declined 77 percent from 1985 (13 per 100,000) to 2009 (3 per 100,000) while the forcible rape rate exhibited a similar 71 percent decline from 120 per 100,000 in 1985 to 35 per 100,000 in 2009. In contrast, the robbery and aggravated assault rates vacillated quite a bit. The robbery rate increased from 265 per 100,000 in 1985 to 327 per 100,000 in 1991 and then dropped to 184 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate displayed a similar pattern as it increased from 184 per 100,000 in 1985 to 451 per 100,000 in 1995 before falling to 302 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 37 Crimes committed against persons: Austin, Texas

      The property-crime rates in Austin followed similar trends during this time (Figure 38). Although the larceny-theft rate dropped 19 percent from 5,980 per 100,000 in 1985 to 4,819 per 100,000 in 2009, it swelled to 7,722 in 1990. In a similar manner, the motor vehicle theft rate, which was 520 per 100,000 in 1985, increased to 997 per 100,000 in 1991 before falling to 289 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate fell 55 percent from 2,524 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,138 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 38 Property-related crime: Austin, Texas

      Columbus, Ohio, experienced some interesting trends in street crime committed against persons from 1985 to 2009 (Figure 39). The forcible rape rate marginally increased (5 percent) from 72 per 100,000 in 1985 to 76 per 100,000 in 2009. The robbery rate also increased modestly (18 percent) from 379 per 100,000 in 1985 to 447 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate, in comparison, decreased (46 percent) from 313 per 100,000 in 1985 to 170 per 100,000 in 2009. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate followed a similar downward trend decreasing 14 percent from 13 per 100,000 in 1985 to 11 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 39 Crimes committed against persons: Columbus, Ohio

      The property-related street crime rates in Columbus exhibited less stable patterns during this period (Figure 40). The motor vehicle theft rate peaked earliest, at 1,338 per 100,000 in 1990, before eventually falling to 551 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate increased from 4,435 per 100,000 in 1985 to a high of 5,595 per 100,000 in 1997 and dropped to 3,956 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate also initially grew from 1,962 per 100,000 in 1985 to its highest value of 2,631 per 100,000 in 1989 and slowly declined to 1,920 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 40 Property-related crime: Columbus, Ohio

      Fort Worth, Texas, rounded out the top 20 largest cities in the United States with a 70 percent increase in population from 1985 to 2009. The trends in Fort Worth's street crime rates committed against persons were fairly similar to one another (Figure 41). The rates of murder and non-negligent manslaughter (46 per 100,000), forcible rape (129 per 100,000), and robbery (780 per 100,000) peaked in 1986 and followed a general downward trend until 2009. The rate of aggravated assault, which was 735 per 100,000 in 1985, grew to 1,123 per 100,000 in 1992 before dropping to 328 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 41 Crimes committed against persons: Fort Worth, Texas

      A similar pattern was observed among property-related street crime in Fort Worth (Figure 42). The rates of burglary (4,758 per 100,000) and larceny-theft (8,904 per 100,000) peaked in 1987 and began to trend downward. The rate of motor vehicle theft, on the other hand, rose from 1,356 per 100,000 in 1985 to 2,946 per 100,000 in 1991 before falling to 295 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 42 Property-related crime: Fort Worth, Texas

      The population of Memphis, Tennessee, remained fairly stable from 1985 to 2009, and although some street crime rates for crimes committed against persons remained constant, others fluctuated a fair amount (Figure 43). The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate was one that remained somewhat stable, growing only 6 percent from 19 per 100,000 in 1985 to 20 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate, on the other hand, increased dramatically (96 percent) from 565 per 100,000 in 1985 to 1,109 per 100,000 in 2009. Despite an overall 59 percent reduction, the forcible rape rate rose from 138 per 100,000 in 1985 to 147 per 100,000 in 1997 before dropping to 57 per 100,000 in 2009. The trend in the robbery rate was similar, swelling from 766 per 100,000 in 1985 to 945 per 100,000 in 1996 and dropping to 620 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 43 Crimes committed against persons: Memphis, Tennessee

      There were divergent trends in property-related street crime rates in Memphis during this time (Figure 44). Although the motor vehicle theft rate declined 65 percent from 1,794 per 100,000 in 1985 to 628 per 100,000 in 2009, the larceny-theft rate increased 26 percent from 3,452 per 100,000 in 1985 to 4,354 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate exhibited a modest decline (14 percent) from 2,427 per 100,000 in 1985 to 2,089 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 44 Property-related crime: Memphis, Tennessee

      Baltimore, Maryland, was tied with Detroit as the other city with the largest population reduction (17 percent) from 1985 to 2009. One of the street crime rates for those committed against persons remained stable during this period while the others grew or fell (Figure 45). The aggravated assault rate exhibited a minor overall change (3 percent) from the 1985 rate of 898 per 100,000 to the 2009 rate of 871 per 100,000. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate, in contrast, rose 35 percent from 28 per 100,000 in 1985 to 37 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate and the robbery rate both declined, with the forcible rape rate dropping from 77 per 100,000 to 25 per 100,000 while the robbery rate decreased from 1,008 per 100,000 in 1985 to 580 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 45 Crimes committed against persons: Baltimore, Maryland

      The property-related crime rates in Baltimore followed patterns similar to one another (Figure 46). The burglary rate swelled from 1,799 per 100,000 in 1985 to its peak of 2,442 per 100,000 in 1993 before falling to 1,221 per 100,000 in 2009. Similarly, the larceny-theft rate grew from 3,986 per 100,000 in 1985 to 6,405 per 100,000 in 1995 before dropping to 2,621 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle theft rate increased from 781 per 100,000 in 1985 to a high of 1,831 per 100,000 in 1994 before falling to 724 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 46 Property-related crime: Baltimore, Maryland

      Louisville, Kentucky, merged with Jefferson County in 2003, which prohibited accurate comparison of the city's 1985 population with the new 2009 geography of the city. This merger made observing trends in street crime during this period virtually impossible. The trends in street crime rates related to crimes committed against persons based on the available data are presented in Figure 47. Louisville experienced slight increases in three measures of street crime committed against persons. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate increased 11 percent from 9 per 100,000 in 2005 to 10 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate also increased (9 percent) from 34 per 100,000 in 2005 to 36 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate was the third measure to increase slightly (4 percent) during this time from 290 per 100,000 in 2005 to 302 per 100,000 in 2009. In contrast, the robbery rate decreased (15 percent) from 292 per 100,000 to 249 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 47 Crimes committed against persons: Louisville, Kentucky

      The patterns of property-related crime rates for Louisville are presented in Figure 48. The motor vehicle theft rate decreased 46 percent from 505 per 100,000 in 2005 to 274 per 100,000 in 2009. The burglary rate remained fairly stable (2 percent decline) from 1,146 per 100,000 in 2005 to 1,122 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate increased slightly (4 percent) from 2,750 per 100,000 in 2005 to 2,866 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 48 Property-related crime: Louisville, Kentucky

      Boston, Massachusetts, generally exhibited a downward trend in rates of street crimes committed against persons from 1985 to 2009 (Figure 49). The city's robbery rate steadily declined from its peak of 1,087 per 100,000 in 1985 to 365 per 100,000 in 2009. The aggravated assault rate increased from 879 per 100,000 in 1985 to its height in 1990 (1,212 per 100,000) before falling to 576 per 100,000 in 2009. A similar trend was observed among murder and non-negligent manslaughter, which grew from 1985 (15 per 100,000) to 1990 (25 per 100,000) before dropping to 8 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate decreased 54 percent, from 93 per 100,000 in 1985 to 43 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 49 Crimes committed against persons: Boston, Massachusetts

      The property-related crime rate trends in Boston all followed a general downward trajectory (Figure 50). The burglary rate steadily decreased 76 percent from 2,001 per 100,000 in 1985 to 473 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate also steadily decreased after it peaked in 1989 (5,308 per 100,000) to 2,484 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle theft rate reached its height in 1986 (3,410 per 100,000) and steadily declined through 2009 (366 per 100,000).

      Figure 50 Property-related crime: Boston, Massachusetts

      El Paso, Texas, rounded out the top 25 largest U.S. cities in 2009. Overall, the city's street crime rates for those committed against persons declined from 1985 to 2009 (Figure 51). The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate fell 59 percent from 5 per 100,000 in 1985 to 2 per 100,000 in 2009, and the robbery rate dropped 65 percent from 209 per 100,000 to 73 per 100,000 in 2009. The forcible rape rate decreased more modestly (23 percent) from 38 per 100,000 in 1985 to 29 per 100,000 in 2009, and the aggravated assault rate fell 32 percent from 519 per 100,000 in 1985 to 353 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 51 Crimes committed against persons: El Paso, Texas

      The property-related street crime rates in El Paso fluctuated a fair amount from 1985 to 2009 (Figure 52). The burglary rate, for instance, swelled from 1985 (1,686 per 100,000) to 1988 (2,425 per 100,000) before falling to 340 per 100,000 in 2009. The larceny-theft rate followed a similar trajectory, increasing from 1985 (4,045 per 100,000) to 1990 (7,298 per 100,000) before dipping to 2,367 per 100,000 in 2009. The motor vehicle rate also grew from 1985 (594 per 100,000) to 1990 (1,094 per 100,000) and then steadily declined to 305 per 100,000 in 2009.

      Figure 52 Property-related crime: El Paso, Texas
      Contributions to Cities' Street Crime Increase in the 1980s

      This close examination of street crime trends shows that most of the 25 largest U.S. cities experienced similar patterns in these crime rates. Street crime appeared to increase during the latter portion of the 1980s into the first part of the 1990s, with a steady pattern of decline taking place from that point forward. Although many explanations have been offered to account for the observed increase in the late 1980s, the simplest is related to the enhanced reporting efficiency that began to emerge at the time. Robert O'Brien demonstrated that the height of street crime prevalence peaked at a time when the reliability of official recording of criminal incidents increased dramatically. The advent of reliable computer databases, for example, helped streamline and organize the recording process. In addition to these improved recording tools and techniques, the National Crime and Victimization Surveys (NCVS) also show that the offender-generated rates (i.e., self-reported offending) of street crime generally began declining in the early 1990s. Crime was being recorded with greater reliability and there was also a marked decreased in actual offenses taking place.

      The burgeoning crack cocaine trade also played a significant role in the increase in urban street crime in the 1980s. Crack cocaine is a crystalline form of cocaine. It is usually smoked and produces a quickly realized (due to its route of administration through lung tissue) yet short-lived high. Crack gained recognition as a popular street drug in the latter half of 1985 and early 1986 as it emerged in the largest cities on each coast (i.e., Los Angeles and New York). The intense yet relatively brief physiological effects of the drug contributed to strong reinforcement for continued use, leading to assertions such as, “Try it once and you're hooked for life!” However, James Inciardi found only a minority of those who did smoke crack cocaine engaged in consistent use on a daily basis. Despite the reality of the low numbers of regular crack cocaine users, the media latched on to the story and crack cocaine monopolized news headlines for an extended period of time.

      The great deal of media attention devoted to the crack epidemic, as it has come to be known, eventually demanded criminal justice and public policy responses aimed at the amelioration of the crime wave that had taken hold of America's cities. Sensationalized stories about babies born to mothers who smoked crack cocaine and the uncontrollable increase in the number of impoverished inner-city residents, mostly African American, who were addicted to the substance dominated the airwaves in the late 1980s. These stories ultimately supported harsher sentencing structures for those arrested for possession of crack (versus powder cocaine), and they supported justifications for steady increases in antidrug program funding. Law enforcement and public school programs ranging from government-funded sources to corporate enterprises, such as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, became fully dedicated to the complete eradication of crack cocaine from America's cities.

      These dramatized media claims and the accompanying political rhetoric also singled out crack cocaine as the primary cause of the drastic spike in urban street crime. In reality, crack cocaine appeared most often in disenfranchised inner-city neighborhoods already suffering from high unemployment rates and few opportunities for economic advancement: settings likely to foster drug use and street crime at any given time. In other words, the neighborhoods where crack cocaine appeared and use was most prevalent were already susceptible to high rates of street crime. Therefore, there were many possible causes of increases in crime at the time and crack cocaine, which cannot be singled out as the sole culprit, was certainly a contributing factor.

      In fact, research conducted in New York City in 1988, the peak of the crack cocaine era, identified how crack cocaine may have played a significant role in the escalation of violent street crime. For instance, slightly over half (52.7 percent) of homicides that occurred in 1988 in the study's sample were in some way drug-related. Examining these data more closely revealed about one-fourth (26 percent) of drug-related homicides were related specifically to crack cocaine sales, with the most common cause being attributed to territorial disputes between rival crack dealers. These disputes may have come at a time when young, inexperienced crack dealers were competing for a share of the crack market. Semiautomatic handguns were also becoming more available on the streets during the late 1980s, which undoubtedly allowed these disputes to easily escalate to the point of violence.

      The Street Crime Decline in America's Top 25 Cities

      Several innovative policing practices were adopted in direct response to the relatively high levels of urban street crime recorded in American cities in the late 1980s. At least two of these practices have been acknowledged as significant factors in the reduction of street crime, especially in New York City. The first was implemented as a targeted approach to reduce gun-related violence and came in the form of “hand gun checks.” Police on patrol would initiate contact with anyone appearing to have a “suspicious bulge” in their clothing. After approaching persons with this noticeable protrusion in their clothing, police would ask them to explain the reason for it. If the bulge was, in fact, due to the concealment of a handgun, police would be able to address the situation accordingly and proactively remove at least one variable likely to foster violent street crime. Similar patrols directed specifically at firearm reduction in Indianapolis also resulted in a decrease in the number of homicides where these patrols took place.

      The second practice came in the form of general quality-of-life enforcement procedures, which were also intended as more proactive approaches to street crime suppression. Police in New York City became much more focused on routinely stopping anyone on the street who was suspicious of having committed any of a variety of minor offenses. Suspects would be asked to provide identification, and police officers would subsequently perform a check for outstanding arrest warrants and address the suspects as their past criminal justice involvement dictated.

      It was also during the early to mid-1990s when many police departments, including San Diego and Baltimore, began implementing variations of problem-oriented policing models. This policing approach focuses police attention toward resolving issues within the community rather than on police administration. This model also places a high value on evaluating problems relative to a wide variety of potential solutions while collecting feedback from key players outside of the police organization. Problem-oriented policing's concentration on positive policing outcomes as opposed to policing processes has differentiated this approach as an effective crime control strategy.

      Although police practices and their outcomes enjoy positive valuation for their successful approaches to reducing street crime in the 1990s, these may not be the only factors that bolstered the continued downward trend that has largely lasted into the 2000s. For example, the 1994 omnibus crime bill led to a 14 percent increase (approximately 50,000–60,000) in the number of police officers per capita during this time period. It is estimated that this increase in the number of police officers subsequently led to an estimated reduction in crime by 5 to 6 percent. These additional police forces also likely contributed to the growth in incarceration rates during the same period. The U.S. incarceration rate more than doubled from 200 per 100,000 in 1985 to 502 per 100,000 in 2009. The added number of police officers and the incapacitation of such a significant proportion of offenders likely accounted for at least some portion of the drop in crime during the period.

      Researchers have also investigated other explanations for the steady decline in national street crime rates during this period. Some of the large-scale policy-driven explanations include the positive effects stemming from increased levels of education in the United States, a healthy economy, the benefits of welfare programs, and the changing age structure (i.e., “aging out” of the developmental period of high proclivity toward crime). However viable these explanations may be, it is unlikely any one worked independently of the others. It is instead more likely that a combination of criminal justice factors, public policy initiatives, and individual-level variables continue to influence the steady decrease in street crime into the new millennium.

      Photo Credits

      Library of Congress: 1,422; U.S. Department of State: 37 (Kay Chernush), 375; U.S. Department of Defense: 178; Federal Emergency Management Agency: 141 (Michael Medina); U.S. Navy: 452 (Jessica Pounds); U.S. Department of Transportation: 2; National Archives and Records: 38, 208; Federal Bureau of Investigation: 274; Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department: 228 (Darryl Forté); Thinkstock: 24, 30, 47, 98, 107, 189, 359; CrimeView: 88; U.S. White House: 194 (Pete Souza); West Midland Police Department: 121; StockXchange: 104 (Rotorhead) 298; NC PDB Archives: 156; Flickr: 42, 52 (Salim Virji), 112, 126 (Sheila Steele), 131 (Elvert Barnes), 145, 163 (Steven Polunsky), 171 (Javi Velazquez), 175, 264, 319 (Kate Sheets), 385 (Shane T. McCoy), 395, 401, 435 (Marshall Astor); Wikimedia Commons: 9, 18, 20, 35, 59 (Thomas Good), 62, 72, (Bob Bobster), 92, 131, 166, 185, 198, 213, 217, (Andrew Bardwell), 237 (Javier Ramirez), 242, 249, 254 (Elena Chochkova), 259, 268, 278, 283, 288, 293, 304, 311, 313, 324, 329, 334, 338, 343, 348, 355, 365, 380, 391 (Thomas Good) 412, 417, 430, 438.

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