What to Know Today

In the run-up to the midterms, candidates made crime a central issue. What’s really happening? Investigative journalist Radley Balko has reported on the criminal justice system for decades. The latest issue of his newsletter, The Watch, analyzes how politicians have used (and misused) facts about crime in their campaign rhetoric. Among Balko’s takeaways: 

  • In the U.S., murders rose significantly in 2020 and 2021, but they’re not at an all-time high — and so far, they appear to have fallen in 2022.
  • Lower police budgets don’t appear to be a factor: Police funding has increased in many cities, Balko says, and more spending on policing doesn’t necessarily reduce crime.
  • The exact cause of the rise in homicides is uncertain, Balko writes, and “anyone who says they know for sure is lying to you.”

Soon to be required in Texas schools: Panic buttons, automatic locks, bullet-proof windows? The state education agency also proposed checking entrance locks weekly and constructing secure waiting areas for visitors, The Texas Tribune reports. If approved, schools would be required to implement the new measures in 2023. Even if smaller school districts were able to meet that timeline, one superintendent told the Tribune he’s skeptical the funding for the upgrades would be sufficient. Turning schools into fortresses: The desire to keep kids safe has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry promising to “harden” schools. But in a nation where there are more guns than people, Tom Kutsch and Jennifer Mascia wrote for The Trace, some experts have argued that schools would be better served investing in other preventive measures.

Under San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins, office charged with evaluating police misconduct plagued with dysfunction. Jenkins, who has said she hopes to “repair” her office’s relationship with police, was appointed to replace ousted DA Chesa Boudin in June. By September, she’d kicked all the attorneys Boudin hired to work in the police misconduct unit off their cases. Now, Bolts reports the new head of that unit has accused the former staff of corruption and investigating officers “not because the facts warranted those investigations” but because of “‘mission-like’ perspectives.” Families of police shooting victims said they fear their cases will go nowhere with Jenkins as DA. Voters will decide today whether to keep Jenkins in office through 2023.

Challenges continue to Delaware gun restrictions. Nearly four months after Governor John Carney signed six gun restriction bills, gun rights advocates have filed lawsuits against three of them, WHYY reports. The latest, by the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, challenges a law prohibiting people under 21 from buying or possessing most firearms. The other suits concern laws banning high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons, including AR-style firearms

Data Point

56 percent — the share of U.S. adults who say there is more crime in their area this year than last year. That’s up five percentage points from last year, and the highest that Gallup has ever found. As of September, homicides in major cities had dropped, while total violent crime continued to rise. [Gallup / Major Cities Chiefs Association via Axios]