Homicides decline but no guarantee its a trend
BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 7:16 AM
Despite a few high-profile cases, Tulsa recorded only 46 homicides in 2012, the fewest since 2002, when 34 Tulsans died at the hands of other people.
This is certainly good news, but what does it mean? Tulsa police have carried out concentrated enforcement efforts in recent years aimed at getting violent gang members and illegal guns off the streets. Such efforts have been shown in the past to be effective, at least in the short term.
But the fact is, homicide rates yo-yo from year to year with no apparent rhyme or reason. Tulsa is just three years removed from one of its deadliest years, 2009, when there were 71 homicides.
By contrast, 2012 was the deadliest year in Oklahoma City since 1979 (not counting 1995, when 168 were killed in the Murrah Federal Building bombing).
Oklahoma City, operating under about the same economy as Tulsa, maybe even a little stronger, and the same gun laws as Tulsa, recorded 99 homicides, the most since 102 were recorded in 1979. Police there attribute the increase to heightened gang activity and the fact that the police force is nearly 60 officers short.
If there is an explanation for the wide year-to-year variance in homicide rates, it could be this: Homicide numbers are largely at the whim of the gangs. Increased gang activity means more drive-by shootings, which result in increased violent deaths, although most homicides continue to involve people who know each other.
Tulsans can take some comfort in the fact that homicides in the city are at a 10-year low, and hope that 2013 will be as good or better. Unfortunately there is no guarantee it will be.
Original Print Headline: Homicides drop