Report finds Trump’s ‘cloaca of crime’ comment missed the mark

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Flanked by Clark County’s top cop, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, former President Donald Trump called Nevada a “sink of crime” during an endorsement speech in Las Vegas ago. eight days.

But the numbers do not support his statement.

Trump was on the Strip for a campaign event on behalf of Republican candidates Lombardo, who is running for governor, and former state attorney general Adam Laxalt, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

The event focused on law enforcement politics, and much of Trump’s speech focused on characterizing Nevada, and the nation, as a shambles.

“We are a nation in decline,” Trump said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday. “We are a failing nation. … All the while, the streets are filled with the blood of innocent victims of crimes. … If we want to make America great again, our first task is to make America safe again.

Trump, speaking a few steps from former Laxalt state attorney general and current Las Vegas-area law enforcement chief Lombardo, painted a picture of a crime-riddled Silver State for the conservative crowd.

The debate is often framed by politicians as a red-vs-blue state issue, with Republicans trying to tie rising crime to Democratic-led jurisdictions. But the crime data shows much broader trends across the country.

Despite what the former president said, the rate of violent and property crime in Clark County has declined nearly every year since 2015.

Crime bottomed out in 2020 due to the pandemic and rose in 2021, the first year overall crime numbers have increased since 2015 in Clark County, according to data from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Lombardo was quick to boast that crime rates have fallen overall since he became sheriff in 2015, but he blamed a recent rise in crime on Democrats in the Legislative Assembly and nationally. .

The number of violent and property crimes in Clark County increased between 2020 and 2021 – from about 47,700 cases to 50,800. But the 2021 mark is still significantly lower than the 2019 crime total of about 55,000 events, according to department data.

Lombardo is right about crime trends in the county — total crime fell nearly 17% between 2015 and 2021 — but only after a sharp increase in violent crime in 2017 and 2018. In those two years, the violent crimes peaked at around 10,000 cases per year before dropping to around 8,000 cases per year in 2021.

Where the sheriff lays blame is more debatable.

BLAMING JUSTICE REFORMS

As he has done throughout the GOP primary campaign, Lombardo blamed the recent rise in crime on criminal justice reforms approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in particular Bill 236 of the 2019 Sessional Assembly.

This bill was crafted as part of a long review of Nevada’s sentencing standards that began under former Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican. It aimed to reduce the rate at which people return to prison in order to reduce incarceration costs.

Among other changes, the bill increased the trigger for a felony theft charge from $650 to $1,200 and increased the drug weight for a person to be charged with felony trafficking.

Crime theft thresholds vary widely from state to state. In New Jersey, anything over $200 could land someone in jail for at least a year. In Texas, it’s $2,500.

The final version of the Nevada law received bipartisan support and passed the state Senate by a 19-2 vote, with six of eight Republican senators voting in favour.

Lombardo’s department did not oppose the measure, instead testifying as neutral on the legislation in its final form before the bill was signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Democrat whom Lombardo is seeking to unseat.

Lombardo told the Review-Journal in May that the department was neutral on the bill “in the spirit of compromise.”

Several conservative groups were publicly in favor of the legislation, including the American Conservative Union, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Right on Crime and others, according to a letter sent to Republican lawmakers in 2019 that was obtained by the Review-Journal .

“The bill was an acknowledgment that the indiscriminate confinement of people does little to ensure public safety in our communities,” said Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, the project’s lead sponsor. law, in an interview with the newspaper.

During the July 8 panel with Trump, Lombardo claimed Democrats changed a law to prevent officers from arresting people for misdemeanors.

His campaign said in a follow-up email that Lombardo was referring to changes made under the 2021 Legislature Assembly Bill 440. That bill clarified that those charged with nonviolent crimes for the first time would be cited instead of being arrested.

Despite Lombardo’s comments, however, overall arrests still increased. Department statistics show that crime increased by 6% from 2020 to 2021 and the total number of arrests increased by 4.5% during the same period.

Lombardo also said people can get away with stealing one vehicle and are not held responsible unless they steal a second vehicle.

State law states that auto theft convictions, called grand theft of a motor vehicle, are a Class C felony for the first offense and carry a sentence of one to four years. Subsequent convictions are Category B crimes, with a possible sentence of one to six years.

Prior to AB236, the value of the stolen vehicle determined whether it was a Category B or C crime.

Lombardo’s campaign said he was talking about a “recurring scenario at the (police department), where it’s difficult to charge and convict an individual for grand motor vehicle theft.”

Lombardo’s complaints with the changes seem to focus more on the trial process. His campaign said in an email that changes to the motor vehicle theft law allow first-time offenders to get credit for good behavior, which can reduce their sentence.

FOLLOW NATIONAL TRENDS

According to Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Violent crimes increased in 2020 and fell in 2021, while property crimes fell in 2020 as businesses closed during the pandemic, and these crimes have started to increase since 2021.

Rosenfeld said the current national crime spike is closely tied to rising inflation more than anything else.

“When you see inflation going up, you tend to see crime going up,” he said. “As prices rise, the appeal of cheaper, stolen goods increases.”

Cities and jurisdictions that have enacted criminal justice reforms to reduce prison populations, such as those in AB236, have not seen crime rates increase at a faster rate than other jurisdictions, Rosenfeld added. .

“The fact that Las Vegas models follow national models so closely really suggests that the case for criminal justice reform is weak,” Rosenfeld said. “What you heard was political rhetoric. And political rhetoric is often disconnected from systematic evidence.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

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