Bay Area Sees Dramatic Drop In Violent Crime
Professor Robert Weisberg discusses conventional wisdom linking hard times to high crime and how the exact opposite might actually be the case.
The Bay Area extended a run of historic drops in violent crime last year, defying fears that with a poor economy stripping away jobs, social programs and police resources, thugs would rule the streets.
Thirteen of the region's 15 biggest cities recorded fewer murders, robberies, assaults and rapes last year than in 2010, according to new numbers released by the FBI and analyzed by The Chronicle. Three cities - Fremont, Concord and Daly City - enjoyed declines of better than 20 percent.
Although conventional wisdom links hard times to high crime, the factors behind the rise and fall of mayhem and theft have never been well understood. If the recession fed desperation, said Robert Weisberg, a criminal justice expert at the Stanford Law School, it may also have created a sense of "communal solidarity."
"The city is still struggling to devise a response to the crime problem that the city can unite around," said David Sklansky, a law professor at UC Berkeley who has written extensively about policing.