Responding to an FBI report on Monday that shows homicides have increased an unprecedented 30% over the past year, CNN Newsroom host Erica Hill sought to figure out why. Ultimately she concluded that it was the police themselves and guns.
In a segment with professor and criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, Hill inquired about the police: “You noted in some of your findings that urgent action was required in terms of the rates of homicide, saying ‘enacting needed police reforms will be essential.’ Specifically, what type of reforms do you think are essential here?”
Rosenfeld’s answer was two-fold. First, he declared, “One is to increase the accountability of police officers who’ve been shown to engage in serious misconduct, accountability before their own agencies and the law.”
That’s fine, but what does it have to do with the homicide rate? For his second suggestion, Rosenfeld offered the dubious idea of allowing social workers to take over some of the burden:
Secondly, is to move from police departments activities that are better handled by other agencies, being the frontline responder to drug overdose, for example, in most cases that’s not, it seems to me, what we want our police departments to be addressing right now. Other agencies trained in medical emergency services are better able to handle those calls. Responding to the day-to-day problems of the homeless is better done it seems to me in most cases by agencies whose personnel are trained in crisis intervention. So moving from the police department activities better handled by others enables police departments to focus on the immediate and important issue of the increase in violence we’ve seen.
Hill then shifted to guns: “…for the first time in decades the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, telling CNN exclusively a month ago, when talking about gun violence specifically, that this is a serious public health threat. We know the CDC is restarting some of that funding, some of this research. Will looking at the root causes of gun violence, you think now, make a difference moving forward?”
Rosenfeld agreed that the mere existence of guns poses a problem:
Absolutely. We have to look at the underlying causes of violence generally, and firearm violence in particular. One clear problem in that regard is the sheer quantity of firearms available for misuse in our society. There’s good evidence that firearm carrying in our major cities went up last year, and as more people carry firearms, more people will be shot and more will die.
That, of course, opens the door for potential gun control legislation, but Rosenfeld dodged that and instead focused on “persistent poverty and joblessness in our most vulnerable communities and in particular those communities that have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. So, we have to look along those lines.”
This segment was sponsored by Carvana.