May 17, 2016

Rising Homicide Rates: The View From the FBI

This letter to the editor from FBI Assistant Director of Public Affairs Michael P. Kortan was published by The New York Times on May 17, 2016.

Why are young people—predominantly young men from minority communities—being killed in higher and higher numbers, in some cities but not others? Some describe this as a “statistical blip.” But the Federal Bureau of Investigation and our law enforcement partners charged with protecting communities know that these are not statistics: Each of these victims is someone’s family.

We doubt that there is any single, overriding cause. It is more likely a result of a combination of factors, including the state of relationships between the police and the communities they serve. Something we can all agree on is that being safe in our cities and neighborhoods is paramount.

So how can we best ensure that both effective and professional policing contributes to that safety? James Comey, the FBI Director, describes this as a complex and challenging issue that demands everyone’s attention, whether we’re directly affected by the increase in killings or not.

This crisis is far too important—and urgent—to debate in tweets and to reduce to a typical Washington conflict narrative. I encourage readers to look at Mr. Comey’s full comments on this topic from a recent briefing with reporters on

The FBI will continue to drive this discussion and encourage others to join. The stakes are just too high.

- Director Comey Remarks During May 11 ‘Pen and Pad’ Briefing with Reporters