Sunday, January 1, 2017

Palm Beach County homicide victims in 2016: A reason for hope in 2017.

The number of homicides in 2016 (87) was dramatically lower than in 2015 (109). You can see the data for yourself in the link below to The Palm Beach Post’s interactive map. However, for Black males between the ages of 20–34 the numbers remain very grim. More about that below.

On this issue the Post’s Julius Whigham II has this article published on Dec. 31st; an excerpt:

     Edmondson [Mike Edmondson, spokesman for the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office] said that State Attorney’s Office investigators have worked closely with local and federal agencies to address violent crimes. But cooperation from the public remains one of the biggest challenges in solving and prosecuting murder cases, he said. [emphasis added]
     “One issue that remains a challenge is victim witness intimidation and the reluctance of the community to come forward in a murder case, he said.
     “(For) law enforcement, that’s the most frustrating aspect is knowing there is a witness to a murder and they don’t come forward for a range of reasons.”

To see the data for yourself from the interactive map of homicide victims by the Post use this link.

For some perspective here in the City of Lake Worth there have been sixty-two (62) more homicides in PBC since that of Thomas Altman last March.*

And looking back, here’s an observation from a reader of my blog early on in 2016: What if the Post, instead of focusing so much attention on Sheriff Bradshaw and PBSO in 2015 and 2016 with their “Line of Fire” series (see below), had focused more attention on the issue of sober homes and the heroin epidemic instead?† All the Post’s efforts to damage Sheriff Bradshaw's re-election were in vain anyway. Bradshaw won again last year in another landslide.

Remember, starting in 2015 and rolling into 2016 was when Post was all-in with their “Line of Fire: Bullets, Badges, and Death on the Streets”‡ series. The irony wasn’t lost on many that the reporters and editors assigned to that effort didn’t pay much attention to the neighborhoods surrounding their offices in West Palm Beach at that time (West Palm had 22 homicides in 2015; in 2016 there were 10). If they did maybe their overly zealous news reporting would have taken a different path back then.

When you look at the numbers overall (2009–present) the data clearly shows who are the most likely to be the victims of homicide: For example, of the 87 homicides in 2016, 47 (54%) were Black and the vast majority of them males between the ages of 20 and 34 (the interactive map once had a filter for age groups but that tool was disabled). By far the most likely method was a firearm of some type.

Focusing on homicide is not a true barometer of crime in any area or city, just by itself. For instance, a number of homicides could unexpectedly and tragically happen in any city or area in the County and that would skew the data. And also be very careful what your see or read on social media and/or blogs too, like the false rumor below that had to quashed in the City of Lake Worth:

A false rumor in City of Lake Worth by a former candidate (Anarchist Ryan Hartman). Hartman lost in a landslide to Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell.

*If you recall, the murder of Thomas Altman generated many media reports for over a week in the Post and every TV news outlet in the region. Other families weren’t so fortunate, such as the family of Woodley Erilas who was murdered on Jan. 15th, 2015. That case also remains unsolved. 
In November of 2016 the Post did pivot to focus exclusively on the heroin epidemic.
The Post was presented with journalism awards from the Society for Professional Journalism for their reporting on PBSO and Bullets, Badges, and Death on the Streets”. Wouldn’t now be a good time to pivot again and do their next investigation on the terrible dangers that Black males face every day from guns in our communities?