KCTV 5 reports that KC's killings near 10 year high! 2008's 127 homicides was one short of 2006's 128 Homicides. Noting that the actual record for killings in KCMO was in 1993, with 153 homicides.
What's amazing is the lack of perspective these articles contain regarding the murder rate.
Here's a look at the National Homicide (and Robbery) trends over the past 50 years -- this is based on murders per 100,000 people, so has been adjusted for population increases.
So if you look at the national trend data, the entire country saw a huge spike in homicides (and robbery) in the early 1980s, foollwed by a small dip, and then a big increase again in the early 1990s. Then, after over a decade of declines, have seen a small increase in homicides beginning in 2006.
What's amazing about all of the alarm in that is coming from these numbers is that the increase is completely predictable.
According to numbers by the Bureau of Justice, persons between the age of 18-24 are twice as likely as any other age group to murder someone -- followed next by persons 25-35 and then 14-17.
What's interesting, is if you look at US Census Data with population estimates by age, you can see they nearly identically mirror the crime data:
The number of 15-24 year olds spiked in 1980 -- making up 19% of the total people in the US, with a total of 42.5 million people.
By 1995, this number had decreaded to 36.6 million, making up 14% of the total US population.
By 2001, this number had lifted back up to 40 million, but with the overall population increasing, was still at 14% of the total US population.
Meanwhile, if you look at more recent information, in 2008, the number of persons 15-24 is at 42.4 million -- making up just under 15% of the total US population.
So the moral of the story, as the population of 15-24 year olds goes, the propensity of violent crime tends to follow.
So with Kansas City, MO seeing growth in its population, and the national trend is of growth in the 15-24 year olds that are most likely to be responsible for violent crimes, it is HIGHLY forseeable that we'd see an uptick in the murder rate. And we have. Meanwhile, based on our current trend data, I'd expect this to continue to be high for the next 5 years or so, and then we will start to see a decline again (so tip to the next round of politicians, run on the crime platform, and you will likely succeed).
It's just maddening when the media reports these numbers without much of a basis for the larger picture of what is happening with population trends, demographic trends, and what is happening nationally. When put into perspective, it isn't a forcast that the sky is falling.
Does this mean that we should ignore the increase in homicides? Certainly not. But being aware of what is driving the increase is certainly a good first step in trying to stop it. Kansas City would also be wise to look at what some other cities are doing to actually buck this trend -- as some are seeing a decrease in murders.