Many politicians lament the horrible crimes that plague the nation. They often get on their soap boxes and make dramatic declarations about getting “tough on crime.” There is no doubt that horrific crimes capture local, national and even international attention do take place in the United States. Even in Southern California, we have seen our fair share of troubling crimes. More should be done to stop them from happening. But, over the last 30 years, there has been a dramatic drop in crime throughout the nation. Was this trend bucked recently when the FBI released 2015 crime data? On the surface, it appears that violent crime rose significantly in the United States.

However, there is more to data than numbers. The data actually show that violent crime is down with the exception of a handful of large cities. Their crime rates do not reflect the national crime rate as a whole. Unfortunately, the data can be used to demand tougher police tactics, more draconian punishments and a greater militarization of our streets. These are the exact wrong moves to make in a time when community and police relations are so strained. What we need now is level-headed and reasonable debate rather than emotional pontificating.