Commentary: As homicides fall, can we credit COVID stimulus funds?

Commentary: As homicides fall, can we credit COVID stimulus funds?

The recent sharp drop in homicides and other crimes in certain cities across the country is welcome news. Data provided by the FBI show that Los Angeles, Detroit and other places that for years have experienced tragically high homicide numbers have suddenly experienced declines. Baltimore, which faced over 300 homicides per year for the past several years, ended 2023 with 263 homicides, a 20% drop compared to the prior year. Milwaukee and Atlanta also saw declines of approximately 20%.

This news raises questions about what led to the sharp declines in homicides, and many potential causes are credited. Political leaders have cited their efforts to invest in criminal justice reforms, and law-enforcement officials have pointed to new or targeted tactics. Observers theorize that the decline is likely a result of a multitude of factors, and not any single policy or program.

A significant factor that should be considered and explored as contributing to the sharp decline is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Signed into law in March 2021 by President Joe Biden as a COVID-19 stimulus package, ARPA provided $1.9 trillion to federal, state and local governments. Within that amount was $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Relief Funds (SLFRF) for governments to use at their discretion within several broad categories.

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Source: The Baltimore Sun, written by Darius Graham, Managing Director of Community Investment for the Greater Washington Community Foundation


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